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Online School Counseling Master’s Degree Wins State Distance Learning Award

April 26, 2021

  • Angelo State’s Carr Education-Fine Arts Building that houses the Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Angelo State University’s online Master of Science (M.S.) in professional school counseling degree program has received a 2021 Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Education by an Organization Award from the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA).

The ASU program won the award for the 4-Year Higher Education category. It was announced during the recent 2021 TxDLA Virtual Conference.

The M.S. in professional school counseling degree is designed for teachers with at least two years of classroom teaching experience who are interested in becoming a school counselor in Texas. The first students were enrolled in the fall of 2019, and there are currently about 380 students in the online program. Dr. Lesley Casarez built and directs the program, and she teaches courses in the program along with Dr. Audrey Heron and Dr. Ashley Atwood.

Dr. Lesley Casarez Dr. Lesley Casarez“The continued recognition for this program shows the dedication of the faculty for implementing a quality program with rigor that benefits our candidates as they transition from their role as a K-12 teacher to their role as a school counselor,” Casarez said. “We are incredibly excited about the growth this program has had in the last two years and the success our students have had within and upon completion of the program!”

The TxDLA award is just the latest accolade for the ASU program. It also received a 2020 John R. Bourne Outstanding Online Program Award from the national Online Learning Consortium, and it is regularly ranked among the best online school counseling master’s degrees in the nation by multiple higher education resource guides. One of the courses in the program curriculum won a 2020 Exemplary Course Award from the Blackboard Inc. global education technology company.

Additionally, Casarez and other program faculty are members of an ongoing partnership with Texas Education Service Center Region 15 in a $2.3 million initiative to increase the number of public-school counselors employed in rural school districts within Region 15. Titled “Rural West Texas Mental Health Educational Learning Partnership,” it is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The M.S. in professional school counseling degree program is part of the ASU Department of Curriculum and Instruction.