North Providence High School Counselor Named School Counselor of the Year

Published on Monday, February 05, 2024

Russell Paone, North Providence High School School Counseling Department Chair and 2024 Rhode Island School Counselor of the Year (RIDE).

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. Lieutenant Sabina Matos and Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green joined the Rhode Island School Counselor Association (RISCA), North Providence town officials, school leaders, and students on Monday at a surprise celebration to present the association’s School Counselor of the Year Award to Russell Paone, a veteran school counselor at North Providence High School. Additionally, speakers marked the start of Rhode Island School Counseling Week, observed February 5-9, 2024, with a gubernatorial proclamation.

“Congratulations, Russell, on this well-deserved recognition. There is no doubt you have made a significant impact on countless Rhode Island students, many of whom have gone on to contribute meaningfully to our state. We thank you for your many years of service,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Additionally, my administration would like to send our sincere gratitude to school counselors around Rhode Island."

“Our state is grateful to Russell Paone for his amazing dedication to his students and fellow staff for over thirty years,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “He and all of Rhode Island’s school counselors are champions for safe, healthy, and fulfilling school experiences for our students.”

A champion for his students, Paone has made a tremendous impact on the Cougar community over the course of more than 30-year career with the school district. Described by his peers as someone who “lights up any room he walks into” and is “enormously talented, experienced, and knowledgeable,” Paone’s passion for learning earned him the title of department chair early in his career, a position in which he now oversees practicum and student teachers, the development of the school counseling curriculum, and ensures that his department is fully aligned with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and Rhode Island School Counselor Association’s (RISCA) standards. Further, Paone serves on the School Improvement and Leadership teams and has earned a list of commendations while serving in various co-curricular leadership roles. In addition to his professional work, Paone also runs the Olivia Paone Scholarship Fund in honor of his late daughter. The scholarship program helps recipients pay for higher education.

“His kindness and perseverance knows no bounds and that is something that is both seen and felt by students and colleagues alike,” wrote Providence Public Schools middle school counselor Vanessa Vargas Beaudette, who completed her internship hours under Paone’s direction. “He is a one-of-a-kind gem both as a person and in the School Counseling realm.”

“There is no doubt that excellent school counselors can change the lives of Rhode Island students,” said Board of Education Chair Michael Grey. “Russell’s dedication to fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for students has set a remarkable standard within our educational community. Thank you, Russell, for the tireless work you do in shaping the academic and personal development of Rhode Island students.”

“From providing individualized academic planning and goal setting to using data to develop interventions to best support the needs of all students, school counselors’ role in our schools have grown tremendously and the impact they have on our school communities cannot be understated,” said Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Patti DiCenso. “As a former school counselor, it brings me great joy to place a spotlight on Russell and highlight his exceptional work at North Providence High School. Thank you, Russell, for your many years of service that led to this well-deserved recognition.”

"Russell Paone is the embodiment of what it means to be a school counselor. He has a compassionate heart and an unwavering goal to promote the profession,” said RISCA President and 2023 School Counselor of the Year Anne-Marie Flaherty. “Through standards-based and student-focused interventions, he ensures that all students have the tools to reach their potential.”

“It is an honor to highlight the hard work and dedication of School Counselor of the Year, Russell Paone,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “It is clear that Russell is not only a skilled counselor but also a dynamic, respected, and reliable colleague and leader. As Rhode Island begins to implement the Rhode Island Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements, which will prepare students to create their own futures, we are heartened to have excellent school counselors like Russell woven deeply into this process. Congratulations, Russell, and on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Education, we thank you for your tireless support of all students."

National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the essential contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and the tremendous impact they have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

“The North Providence School District is proud to congratulate Russell on this well-deserved honor,” said Superintendent Joseph B. Goho. “In his more than three decades with our school system, Russell has served as a pioneer of high school reform, from developing a comprehensive school counseling curriculum to his dedicated work around the Secondary Regulations. It has been a pleasure to work with Russell as both principal and Superintendent, and we look forward to many more years watching him shine.”

State school counselors of the year are celebrated in Washington, D.C., and participate in webinars and additional online events during National School Counseling Week.

To learn about professional development opportunities, sign up for the monthly school counseling newsletter, and access the School Counselor Resource hub database, visit RIDE’s K-12 School Counseling page. To read about former award recipients, visit RISCA’s recognition webpage. Join the School Counseling Week celebration using the hashtag #RISCW24.