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School counselor wins Educator of Distinction award
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An area public high school educator was recently recognized for her work with students and the mark she has left on many graduates’ lives, a feat that cannot be disputed as one of her students had to nominate her.

Francene Breakfield, senior counselor at Newton High School, was selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

“I am totally honored because it was very unexpected,” Breakfield said. “A lot of awards don’t include counselors — they are only for teachers — so it’s definitely nice to be recognized.”

Student members of NSHSS have the opportunity to nominate the educator who made the most significant contribution to their academic career. The Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award recognizes role models who have made a lasting difference in their classroom by encouraging students to strive for excellence.

Maricruz Ramos, a student at Newton High School, nominated Breakfield for being a role model to pupils and for outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in the classroom, according to a NSHSS press release.

Breakfield said Ramos attended the Newton College and Career Academy and would stop by her office almost every day on the way to the bus. Breakfield helped Ramos apply for the Newton Medical Scholarship she won to pursue a degree in the medical field at Clayton State University.

“I just do it for the love of the kids. I love working with seniors and helping them get scholarships,” said Breakfield, who is going into her 18th year of counseling.

“Dedicated educators who exhibit a commitment to excellence deserve our highest praise and appreciation,” said NSHSS President James W. Lewis. “We’re excited to provide an ongoing means to do so, and we encourage our student members to nominate teachers and counselors who have contributed to their academic success.”

NSHSS was formed in 2002 by Lewis and Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes. Currently, there are more than 950,000 NSHSS members in 160 countries.

Breakfield can now nominate students for scholarships through NSHSS, which she said made her especially happy to receive this award as “my students benefit, too.”

“Dr. Francene Breakfield is an outstanding educator who has a true passion for students,” said Craig Lockhart, deputy superintendent of schools for Newton County School System. “She has helped countless young men and women achieve their academic goals, and this recognition is a testimony to her commitment to children. We commend Dr. Breakfield for her superior work and her dedication to the students of the Newton County School System."