Interview with Cindy Morton

Counseling Blog Author

School Counselor, For High School Counselors

About Cindy: Dr. Cindy Morton is a licensed professional counselor who serves as a virtual counselor with Rockdale County Schools in Conyers, Georgia. In addition to her role as school counselor, Dr. Morton trains and coordinates the Rockdale County Schools Peer Helper and Peer Mediation Program.

Outside of her role in the school district, Dr. Morton belongs to several professional organizations. She is a certified peer professional educator, trainer and board member with the National Association of Peer Programs Professionals. She is the Co-Coordinator of the Online Peer Mediation Platform, a former grant funded project sponsored by the National Association of Peer Program Professionals, the Association of Conflict Resolution, and the JAMS Foundation. She currently serves as the past chair of the Association for Conflict Resolution Education, Research, and Training Section and she holds memberships in the Georgia School Counselors Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the National Association of Peer Program Professionals, Association for Conflict Resolution, and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. In addition to her current positions, Dr. Morton holds many past state and national organizational responsibilities. She was the president of the Georgia Association for Conflict Resolution from 2011-2013, Peer Helper Chair for the Georgia School Counselors Association from 2006-2009, a board member for Kennesaw State University Center for Conflict Management from 2010-12, and Chair of the Association for Conflict Resolution from 2013-15. In 2013, Dr. Morton was voted as 2012-13 Woman of the Year in the field of Education.

Dr. Morton has presented at several academic conferences including the 2002 Foundation of Excellent Schools and 2002 Georgia Tech Prep Institute on the subject of school transition. In 2007, she presented on the use of Transformative Mediation at the Georgia School Counselor Association Annual Conference and in 2008 and 2009, she coordinated and trained adults and youth in conflict strategies at the Youth Day Conference at the National Association for Conflict Resolution Conferences. In 2012, she co-trained with Dr. Tricia Jones on conflict resolution strategies for educators at Lipscomb University. From 2013-15, she trained educators in peer mediation strategies at the National Association of Peer Program Professionals in Pt. Clear, Alabama. In 2013-14, Dr. Morton served a judge in the Georgia State University Mediation Tournament for college students. In 2014, Dr. Morton presented on establishing a peer-helping program to school counselors at the ASCA National Conference in Orlando and the Georgia School Counseling Conference in Augusta, Georgia. In 2015-16, Dr. Morton presented on the topics of Youth Mental Health First Aid and online peer mediation on the Texas Conflict Coach Blog Radio Show. In 2016, Dr. Morton presented at the International Conflict Resolution Conference at Ohio State University, the Georgia School Counselor Association Conference, and Cyber week about the Online Peer Mediation Platform. In 2017, Dr. Morton trained school staff in Kentucky and Turkey on how to establish and coordinate a peer mediation program.

Dr. Morton holds several degrees, licenses, and certifications. She earned her BA in History, Masters in Social Sciences, Masters in School Counseling, and Educational Specialist Degree from Georgia Southern University. In 2010, she completed a Doctorate in Education in Teacher Leadership from Walden University. She is a Licensed Professional and National Certified Counselor in Georgia and a Registered Mediator. Additional certifications include:

  • Certified Bullying Prevention Specialist through the American School Counseling Association
  • Disaster Mental Health Volunteer and a Psychological First Aid trainer with the American Red Cross
  • Certified School Crisis Responder
  • Trauma Specialist
  • Youth Mental Health Trainer
  • Sources of Strength Trainer
  • Gatekeeper Trainer (QPR)
  • Truancy Mediation
  • Transformative Mediation

Recently, Dr. Morton completed coursework in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is currently working on coursework in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

[] When and why did you originally create For High School Counselors?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] My desire to write a blog honestly came from the lack of information available to high school counselors from practicing high school counselors. Do not get me wrong…there were many blogs, but many of them were not specific to my needs as a high school counselor. Fortunately, that trend is now changing!

[] What do you hope to achieve by maintaining your blog?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] My goal is to provide relevant, up-to-date resources and information to high school counselors by sharing from my own experiences (whether positive or negative). Unfortunately, in my own career, I have had to figure out so much on my own. However, from those experiences, I made the decision that I wanted to help other school counselors by using this great resource called the internet!

[] What would you recommend school counselors do now during the summer to best prepare for the new academic year?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] Summer brain drain is not only a phenomenon for students, but is true for adults as well. My suggestions include taking relevant courses in areas where school counselors may feel unprepared or weak, investing in reading books that will enhance their practice, and choosing at least one conference to attend. It is amazing the number of conferences that are available to school counselors over the summer!

[] Please walk us through your undergraduate and graduate education path that enabled you to become a school counselor. What motivated you to choose this profession?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] My path to school counseling was truly unplanned. In fact, I wanted to be an accountant, but that didn’t go so well (I hated balancing books!). However, I had a deep love for history and I decided it would be a fun major. In fact, my dream was, and still is, to write a historical novel. Following the completion of my Bachelor of Arts in History, I decided I needed to pay my bills and I landed a job as a history teacher. In fact, my first teaching job was at the high school that I had attended as a student (I taught there for nine years). During my fifth year as a teacher, I had a realization that students liked to talk to me about their problems and they often told me their school counselor was too busy to talk to them. Unexpectedly, one of my students told me that I should consider becoming a school counselor. A counselor? I had never thought of being a counselor, but I decided I would take a class to see what becoming a counselor was all about.

Well, needless to say after my first course I was hooked and I received my Master’s Degree and Specialist Degree in school counseling. Now, it was time to find a job. My first job as a school counselor was in the elementary school setting. Although I loved the children, my heart and passion was with the older students. Finally, I found a position as a high school counselor and the rest is history. As time passed, I decided to go back to school and I was able to complete my Doctorate in Leadership. In addition to my advanced degrees, I decided to add other certifications and specialties to my credentials. These areas include a Licensure in Counseling, Trauma Specialist, Conflict Resolution Trainer, Registered Mediator, Peer Educator, Bully Specialist, Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer, and Disaster Mental Health Responder.

[] What are some of the top takeaways from graduate school that you still find useful or instructive in your career today?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] Honestly some of the best courses I have taken in my counseling program, which still stays with me in my practice, were my courses in Ethics. Believe me when I say these courses have kept me out of trouble more than I want to admit. I don’t look good in orange!

[] One of your focus areas in your career is “training students and adults in conflict resolution education and peer helping skills.” Why did you choose these two areas to focus in, and what kind of impact have you seen in your students as a result of focusing on these areas?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] Again, I kind of fell into the peer mediation and peer helping accidently. Originally, I was exposed to peer mediation as a teacher and experienced its effectiveness among student conflicts in my classroom. Years later, I decided to take a 40-hour course in mediation and joined the Association for Conflict Resolution where I became involved in the Education Section. During my time as a leader in the section, I was able to attend many yearly conferences and coordinated several youth day events in different states. During these events, our team would work with the students and their coordinators in advanced conflict resolution strategies. In addition to mediation, I expanded my interest into peer helping and served on the Georgia School Counselor Association leadership team for five years where I coordinated its annual Peer Helper Conference.

My work in peer helping led me to join the National Association of Peer Program Professionals where I would become a member of the leadership and a peer educator trainer. Since my involvement in peer mediation and helping, I have had the privilege of coordinating many programs since 2006. In my current position, I am able to teach an online peer-helping course as an elective course to high school students in my county. It is amazing to see the wonderful things my students are able to accomplish with the right training and support. In addition to teaching an online course, I have been involved in creating an online peer mediation platform that emphasizes appropriate adult training and promoting mediation among high school students.

[] You’ve been a school counselor for over 18 years. Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your school counseling career?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] Well, there are many things! The biggest lesson I have learned is that we must advocate for our profession! Often teachers get support from our administration, but school counselors are easily overlooked. In fact, this is one of the most important lessons I have learned!

[] Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[Cindy Morton, Ed.D.] I think that there are many opportunities for high school counselors to show their value in their school districts. Some of us are better at advocacy than others, but my hope is to inspire other high school counselors to educate their stakeholders about their roles and responsibilities, celebrate their accomplishments, work closely with their administrators, and collaborate with other counseling colleagues (even if it is in a different state).

“So why bother (advocating for our profession)? Because I hope these things bother you as well. I hope that you will find the strength to promote our profession. Because that profession helps kids. They are the reason we go to work in the morning. They are reasons why our jobs exists. That are the ones who ultimately benefit from our advocating. If you think it doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. Sometimes it has to be played like a broken record, being repeated over and over again until the words are embedded in our brains. But, it does have impact. Our words matter. Just as words you say to a student may not seem to have any impact, but then years later that student sees you and says, ‘Remember what you said to me? It made all the difference.’”

Thank you, Cindy! Learn more about For High School Counselors on our Counseling Blogs list.

Last updated: April 2020