Claudman named Educational Support Professional of the Year

Keegan Brooks, Staff Writer

In addition to a teacher being named Chamblee’s Teacher of the Year, each year a non-teacher staff member is named as the school’s Educational Support Professional of the Year. These honors are voted on by the staff of the school.

After Chamblee staff voted in early 2020, Wylene Ward-Claudman was announced as Chamblee Charter High School’s Educational Support Professional of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.

Claudman, who has worked at Chamblee since 2016, was honored to find out that she had been voted as the Educational Support Professional of the Year by her colleagues.

“I find it to be a great honor to be nominated and selected among my peers. So it is the staff, the teachers who nominates the support person of the year. I appreciate them recognizing me for my work in helping students being a team member and part of the Chamblee family,” said Claudman.

Counselors at Chamblee have a variety of responsibilities, and Claudman is the counselor for all students with last names that start with N though Sh.

“Counselors wear many hats, of course. We do have students with advisement course selections, college, and career readiness. We also have mentoring programs here at Chamblee. So it just depends on exactly what it is,” said Claudman. “Of course we do individual counseling, social emotional health.”

Claudman has not always been a counselor, starting out her career as a substitute teacher in Ohio and going on to teach students from kindergarten to high school before moving to DeKalb in 2005 and becoming a graduation coach.

“My educational career started as a substitute teacher. I’m from Ohio. So I started as a substitute teacher in Ohio. Then I became a classroom teacher. So I’ve taught kindergarten through high school. Exceptional education was my area. So upon relocating here in 2005, I sought a counseling position in DeKalb County,” said Claudman. “I was initially a graduation coach. So it was about helping students to graduate and do things, seek their goals beyond high school. So that was a natural path for me. And then coming to Chamblee as a graduation coach is how I ended up here.”

Claudman credits her teachers and coaches from when she was in school for her wanting to pursue a career in education.

“For me, it was my teachers who were my mentors in high school and in school, period, just giving me the encouragement to go beyond high school, going to college. And my coaches,” said Claudman. “I ran track in high school and I was pretty good. And so I went to school on a full scholarship and I’ve always wanted to help other students realize that they can go to college too and realize their dreams.”

She attended the University of Toledo on a full track scholarship, specializing in the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles and 4 x 400 relay.

Claudman’s colleagues also recognize the work that she puts in as a counselor, connecting more with students and parents on the path to graduation.

“I think that through being a counselor, not being a teacher, you see the aspects of the instruction and dealing with students and parents and things like that. But I think being support staff, like a counselor like Ms. Claudman is, I think she definitely has a challenging job with having to get students to the end result, and that is graduation,” said English teacher Yasmin Anderson. “And maybe seeing it on just a different level than what we see in the classroom. She is able to connect sometimes on a more personal level with students and their parents.”

Along with helping students and parents, Claudman is also able to help teachers at Chamblee.

“Not only is she working with [students and parents], but she has to work with teachers as well. So she is very helpful when I have to call her up or ask her a question about a student that may have challenges or something that would help them to better fit them in the classroom,” said Anderson. “I’m able to call her and seek her out or just pop in her room and in her office and just talk to her about it, and she is very welcoming in that sense. I think that she’s one that will arrive early, stay late, and try to do what she can to benefit her students.”

Overall, Claudman appreciates the diversity of the Chamblee community.

“I really appreciate that Chamblee is really a good representative of what we have in America. I say Chamblee is [like the] ‘high school USA.’ So you have some of everybody here at Chamblee, which makes it really great to understand people of different cultures, backgrounds, and really learn from each other,” said Claudman. “I really think that’s a bonus being part of the Chamblee community.”