Former MCPS Student Joins Counseling Team


Photo Courtesy of Kelly Serna

Kelly Serna has been in MCPS as a student, paraeducator, and more. Now she’s joined the RHS counseling team.

Kelly Serna is the newest addition to the RHS counseling department. Joining RHS in Jan., she is taking on the caseload of James Rowan after he became a seventh grade counselor at Argyle Middle School. Serna got her undergraduate degree in social work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

“When I was done with that I knew that I liked the helping profession, and I liked social work a lot,” Serna said. “But I didn’t know what branch of social work I wanted to do at the time, so what I ended up doing was I got lucky and got a job at Wheaton High School’s wellness center.”

She started working at Wheaton in 2016 and after a couple years of working closely with school counselors and other staff, she decided to get her Master’s of Education in school counseling at Loyola University, where she graduated in Dec. 2021.

Serna has worked within MCPS as a Parent Community Coordinator, paraeducator, and now as a counselor, but she was also an MCPS student herself once.

“I think she brings those experiences that can help our students, especially our newcomers, who really need someone to have as a resource,” resource counselor Alejandra Crawley said.

Serna was born and raised in Mexico and moved to Montgomery County in eighth grade. She started school in MCPS as an ESOL student at Loiederman Middle School.

“My first year was just very scary, you know, because I didn’t know any English,” Serna said. “I couldn’t even tell you, you know, like, ‘Hey,’ you know, ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’”

The language barrier, in addition to staff that wasn’t trying to connect with her, inspired her to be a counselor who forms connections with students. She hopes that her experience, along with knowing a second language can help students feel welcomed around her.

“I think coming from, like, that perspective and not really having a lot of support in school kind of made me realize that I wanted to just be someone that helped students in their transition to schools,” Serna said.

Her transition to RHS was made more difficult by starting halfway through the school year, but Serna has been met with a supportive team within the counseling office.

“Everybody works very hard to make sure that everybody is either on track to graduate, or just receiving all of the support that they need in the classroom,” Serna said. “I’ve liked that sense of teamwork that I’ve observed so far.”

Serna joining the counseling team means she’s able to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective.

“She is a breath of fresh air. She’s young,” Crawley said. “I’ve been here 10 years, and some other ones, other counselors, have been here a little longer, a little closer to 10 too.”

As things like technology evolve, so does the role of counselors. Managing student schedules is just part of their job, they also provide academic or career support and planning.

“Ultimately I’m just another person that’s there for support,” Serna said. “I have time and it’s in my hands to, like, really help, ultimately that’s what I’m here for.”