You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

What’s her secret? Popular Seminole Ridge counselor is best in Florida

One reason why award-winning Seminole Ridge High School counselor Melissa Garcia is so successful is she is always there for her students.

Senior Rhiannon Boffa remembers e-mailing Garcia with a problem at 9:30 one night and she got a response two minutes later. Boffa leaned on Garcia for advice even more this past school year with the stress of college applications. She’ll be attending the nursing program at Florida Atlantic University and credits Garcia for motivation.

“She is truly an amazing counselor,” Boffa said. “She’s someone I can always rely on and count on.”

READ: Seminole Ridge High dance marathon surpasses fundraising goal

For Garcia, that’s just part of the job.

At 33, Garcia already has her PhD and was named Counselor of the Year in Florida and the Governor’s Shine Award that is open to all educators in the state — not just counselors.

Since coming to Seminole Ridge three years ago, Garcia has instituted new college prep activities and brought more colleges in for presentations.

“When you are in education, your life passes by so fast because there are so many things going on,” she said.

Her proactive nature has brought her success because her beyond-the-call-of-duty approach has helped:

- When she was a counselor at both Lake Worth High School and Santaluces High School, she made unanounced house calls to students who weren’t coming to school.

- She once counseled a student from a parking lot when he wouldn’t get out of the car for school. A couple years later, he came back back to her to thank her for pushing him.

READ: Mock election rallies Seminole Ridge class to learn about politics

A thank you from students means everything.

“It’s a rush of intense emotions. It give you goosebumps,” she said. “It’s the best feeling. It’s just pure satisfaction.”

Junior Malik Brann started coming to see Garcia regularly about two years ago when his grades weren’t where he wanted them to be. He wanted to go to college, but he needed a nudge in the right direction with a new approach.

Now he is already signed up for dual enrollment classes this summer and has better than a 3.0 grade point average. He still drops by to see Garcia once or twice a week, and she looks forward to the visits, affectionately calling him a “frequent flyer.”

He appreciates her thoughts that make his own decision-making easier.

“It gives us another perspective of what we should do and how we should keep pushing ourselves to do what we want,” he said.

Motivating students is another one of Garcia’s talents. Sure, it’s easier to guide students who always work hard, but she doesn’t always run into that attitude with teenagers.

“I am cognizant enough to know that I can’t just rely on motivated students,” she said. “I think I pride myself in motivating the unmotivated.”

READ: Students up-close look at farming

That means different things for different people.

She stresses the importance of a college education, but understands that college isn’t for everyone — as long as the student has a plan.

Principal James Campbell is happy for her — and that she’s at Seminole Ridge.

“I think it’s great because it’s giving her recognition for her hard work,” he said. “We can never recognize our educators enough for the hard work that they do every day.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Video shows Delta pilot hit women after Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta flight
Video shows Delta pilot hit women after Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta flight

The latest viral airline video to circulate the web shows a Delta Air Lines pilot apparently smack one woman during a scuffle between two women at an Atlanta airport following a flight from Fort Lauderdale, according to media sources. The video of the April 21 fight was first shared by TMZ on Saturday, and has since made the rounds on social media...
NEW: Man caught on video snatching purse at Royal Palm restaurant
NEW: Man caught on video snatching purse at Royal Palm restaurant

A man is being sought by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office after he allegedly snatched a purse from a victim at a Royal Palm Beach restaurant. Download our PostNOW app to get the latest Breaking News The man was captured on surveillance video running away after taking the purse. He is described as wearing a T-short, shorts, sneakers and...
NEW: Two displaced after mobile home fire in Hobe Sound
NEW: Two displaced after mobile home fire in Hobe Sound

Two people were displaced from their mobile home after it caught fire early Sunday, the American Red Cross reports. The blaze at the home on Southeast Red Bird Circle, just off Southeast Osprey Street between Federal and Dixie highways, was put out Sunday. Volunteers provided the two residents with food, clothing and temporary lodging, Red Cross reports...
Couple takes Alzheimer’s curves as they come
Couple takes Alzheimer’s curves as they come

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Cheryl Levin-Folio can’t anticipate every new milestone of memory loss as she and her husband, Michael Folio, navigate his Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes quick thinking comes in handy, as it did when Michael forgot one day to take off his clothes before stepping into the shower. Rather than correct her husband...
Take care of your savings by taking care of your brain
Take care of your savings by taking care of your brain

Grab a bowl of berries and walk up a steep hill. Now you’re ready to learn three other ways to save your retirement fund. Confused? The advice is simplistic and ignores the devastating financial toll dementia-related expenses often add to a person’s struggle with the disease, but if there are some low-cost and relatively easy ways to delay...
More Stories