The best school psychologist in the entire nation works right here in Raleigh

Cheers and clapping rang out throughout the hallways of Lynn Road Elementary School on Tuesday morning as Leigh Kokenes was recognized for being the best school psychologist in the nation.

Kokenes was named the 2019 National School Psychologist of the Year at last week’s annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists. Kokenes’ colleagues and the students at Lynn Road Elementary celebrated the award Tuesday.

Kokenes has worked for the Wake County school system since 2006. where she serves students at Lynn Road and West Millbrook Middle School.

She’s also active at the state level, where she serves on the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education and is co-chair of the N.C. School Psychology Association’s Legislative and Public Policy committee.

Her work has won her previous awards, including being named School Psychologist of the Year for the Wake school system in 2016 and for the state in 2017.

“I am extremely proud of Mrs. Kokenes and her dedication to our children and their success,” Wake Superintendent Cathy Moore said in a news release. “School psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers help establish positive relationships with students and their families, connecting them with wraparound support and community services, which allows students to better focus on their academic performance and growth.

“These critical support services are essential for our district to work towards increasing proficiency and eliminating achievement gaps based on demographics.”

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.