Strawberry Mansion High School counselor helping students pave new path

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia school counselor is getting a lot of attention for the great work she's doing to help kids get into college.

She knows every face, every name and each student's story.

Ameera Sullivan, or Ms. Sullivan as the students call her, is a counselor at Strawberry Mansion High School.

Once called a "Promise Academy," the high school has made national headlines for poor graduation rates and low academics. But Ms. Sullivan is hoping to change that through bold ideas and real connections with students. These students, who by high school, often face more than most do in a lifetime.

"I've had students tell me I don't see myself living past 18 and it broke my heart," said Sullivan.

In just three short years, Sullivan has had over 20 colleges visit the school, went on two college trips --which hadn't been done in recent years-- and helped students identify and get accepted into their school of choice.

"I have two students that got accepted into Johnson and Wales, one has a presidential scholarship," said Sullivan.

"She's fun and everything. I can talk to her. She's really nice," said Wayne Cooper, a junior at the school.

Sure, there's the tough love and guidance she gives that makes a difference, but today she learned firsthand, the students also watch her closely. Inspired by Ms. Sullivan, Mikal Jardine wants to be a social worker and help at risk youth.

"She's a role model to me," said Jardine.

Once worried about graduating, Jardine is the student with a presidential scholarship to Johnson and Wales. That in large part, is due to Ms. Sullivan.

"If they like you and they see that you're invested in them, they'll return the favor," Sullivan said.

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