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School Counseling & College Advising


The SMR School Counseling Team

The SMR School Counseling Team supports students socially, emotionally and academically throughout their four years. Students are assigned a counselor based on the student’s last name and will stay with that counselor throughout their time in high school. This fosters a strong counselor and student relationship.  

Click here to view the St. Mary's Ryken Portrait of a Graduate. 

Services provided by the SMR School Counseling Team include:

  • Small group counseling based on students’ needs
  • Classroom guidance lessons
  • Parent-only events that cover topics such as technology addiction, course selection, searching for college scholarships, making the most of summer vacation, etc.
  • College preparation and application process curriculum integrated into academic classes
  • College night events with appropriate content for each grade level and parents
  • Annual on-campus college fair with over 40+ colleges represented
  • Student workshops on how to write college essays, applying for scholarships, selective admissions, and how to choose a college to attend
  • Counselors also work one-on-one and in groups to identify a student's strengths and to guide them in course selection
  • Partnership with SMR Learning Resource Specialists to help students navigate the challenges of the classroom.

Click here to view the School Profile

For additional information and questions about the college advising benefit to your child’s SMR high school experience, students and parents are encouraged to reach out to the SMR School Counseling Team. 

Meet the School Counselors

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David Hamilton

David Hamilton

Director of College Advising, Advisor for L-Q, Certified Educational Planner

Mr. Butch Hamilton is the Director of College Advising and is in his 26th year at the secondary level after eleven years in college admissions. In addition to being a Certified Educational Planner, he is an active member of the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
“Respect the process” forms the basis of his educational philosophy: The journey to college and the time spent there is the most important part of this endeavor. Mr. Hamilton received his BA degree in History from Allegheny College and a MA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Student Affairs in Higher Education. His outside interests include obstacle course racing, reading and CrossFit.
Mr. Hamilton serves students with last names in the L - Q part of the alphabet.

Katherine Herring

Katherine Herring

School Counselor, Advisor for R - Z

Mrs. Katie Herring is serving students whose last names begin with R-Z. Mrs. Herring has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University and a Master of Education in School Counseling from Angelo State University. As a former teacher and advisor, Mrs. Herring is passionate about championing students and helping them reach their potential. She is excited to partner with students and families to promote students’ success and well-being.

Christine Jaffurs

Christine Jaffurs

Director of School Counseling, Advisor for E-K

Mrs. Christine Jaffurs is the Director of the School Counseling Department and supports the students with last names E-K.  Mrs. Jaffurs has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters in Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.  She has been at SMR since 2007. She and her husband Alex have raised two SMR Alumni, Nicholas 2018 and Gina 2022. Mrs. Jaffurs takes a very holistic approach with students supporting them emotionally, socially, academically and spiritually.  She is also a certified yoga instructor who teaches in the community. She is excited to support your student and work alongside with you throughout their high school years and beyond.  She serves students with last names in the E - K part of the alphabet.

Emma Layne

Emma Layne

School Counselor, Advisor for A-D

Ms. Emma Layne supports students with last names A-D. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Salisbury University where she majored in Psychology and a Masters in Education from Loyola University where she studied School Counseling. She works with her students by supporting their social/emotional, academic, and career needs. She is passionate about assisting all of her students in navigating through your high school career and she is excited to meet each and every one of you.