SAN ANGELO, Texas — Dr. Lesley Casarez of Angelo State University's graduate education faculty received the 2021 John Shirley Advocacy Award from the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) at the TCA's 65th annual Professional Growth Conference in Galveston.
The John Shirley Advocacy Award recognizes an individual or community organization for excellence in legislative advocacy efforts. For the 2021 award, the conference program states:
"Dr. Casarez has a great impact on the furthering of the field of school counseling. She endeavors to influence government officials and district administrators across West Texas and actively reminds her students, peers, and other colleagues to stay in contact with state legislators.
"Dr. Casarez used her influence and connections to ensure that the new TEA (Texas Education Agency) Effective District Framework includes appropriate school counseling terminology throughout. She also engaged with the State Board of Education to update the Health and PE TEKS to ensure they were reasonable for teachers, and the counselors were represented. She is currently writing a chapter on school counseling advocacy for an upcoming book.
"I am honored to receive this prestigious award, but I continue to urge others to advocate on behalf of professional school counselors statewide. So many legislators do not understand the wide-reaching impact that school counselors have on student success when they are given the opportunity to do their jobs as designed."
An associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Casarez built and directs ASU's nationally-recognized online master's degree program in professional school counseling. She is a board member of TCA and past president of the Texas School Counselor Association (TSCA), where she continues to serve as the liaison to the State Board for Educator Preparation Advisory Committee. She was named the TSCA's Counseling Educator of the Year in 2015.
According to an ASU press release, Casarez and the professional school counseling degree program earned a 2020 John R. Bourne Outstanding Online Program Award from the national Online Learning Consortium, and she was part of a team that earned a 2021 Catalyst Award for Inclusive Education from the Blackboard Inc. global education technology company.
Also director of ASU's Quality Enhancement Plan for re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Casarez holds a doctorate in educational psychology from Texas Tech University. She joined the ASU faculty in 2013.