Mental Health poster

Get to know our counselor:

Ms. Phillips

Hello Mighty Eagles! My name is Marka Phillips and I am your Hillside Academy Counselor. I am a graduate of Lakeview Centennial High School. I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Prairie View A & M University (The Hill).  This is my 28th  year and an educator, 26 of those years in Garland ISD.  I am excited about being your child’s counselor and an EAGLE!  In my spare time I love spending time with my family, playing basketball, watching movies, crafting, and enjoying the outdoors. 

Contact Information

972-926-2550 Ext. # 42507

The vision of Hillside Academy for Excellence's counseling program is to provide a comprehensive, responsive, and preventative program that addresses the academic, social and emotional needs of all students. Through advocacy, leadership, character development and collaboration, we will promote personal growth, social responsibility, and academic excellence. 

We believe that every student can succeed through the collaborative efforts of school, home and community. In partnering with our stakeholders, Hillside's counselor facilitates and coordinates this vision which will ensure that all students understand and embrace their own value; provide a safe, positive environment where all students feel a sense of belonging and connectedness; foster life-long learning and an intrinsic motivation to contribute to their community; and to ensure that all students are prepared and have the access to the knowledge and skills to become members of a global work force. 

Counseling mission statement

At Hillside, we have a mission which drives each staff member here to do their very best in educating your students:

Hillside Academy strives to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach his/her academic potential and to develop self-control, self-respect, and respect for others in a way that:

  • enhances academic abilities and aesthetic talents of all students;
  • develops the students' critical thinking and problem solving abilities;
  • encourages the students' self-esteem, self-control, and respect for others;
  • promotes the students' positive citizenship and responsible behavior so that all students will meet or exceed educational performance standards and all students will demonstrate self-responsibility.

This is achieved by working together as a team and by continually striving for excellence in academics as well as in personal character.

Programs and activities

Have you filled a bucket today?

Cover of the book How Full is Your Bucket?

Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer wrote a book called "How Full is your Bucket? For Kids” based on Dr. Donald O. Clifton's metaphor of the bucket and the dipper. The premise of the book is the idea that we all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this, they are filling other people's buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time.

We pledge to be drug free!

Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon Week, the fourth week in October, is a week of alcohol and other drug awareness activities that promotes a drug-free lifestyle. Wearing a red ribbon signifies a unified effort to support a drug free environment.

To help promote drug and alcohol awareness, Hillside has a "theme week". Each day of Red Ribbon Week, students and staff participate in the "theme of the day".

Hillside eagles are HEROs

Be A Hero! Help Everyone Respect Others

Hillside students wore their best super hero capes to support the GISD anti-bullying program. HERO - Helping Everyone Respect Others – is a program designed to increase student awareness of respecting classmates, exemplifying good citizenship, and how to prevent bullying in schools and communities.

We incorporate activities and programs to encourage a positive approach to supporting constructive interaction between students, teachers and classmates.

Contact the counselor for more information about this program and other anti-bullying support.

College & career readiness

  We also celebrate higher education by wearing our college t-shirts on Fridays and on the district’s College Day.

Mrs. Zercher and students on College Day


Classroom guidance

The school guidance counselor provides guidance in several areas, including decision-making, interpersonal skills, study skills, cross-cultural awareness, and responsible behavior. The Character Education program is centered on Six Pillars of Character in the Character Counts Program: Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Fairness; Caring; and Citizenship. Character Education plays a vital role not only in developing better students, but also in developing better people.

Pillars of Characteristics - Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibilites, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship

Individual counseling

Teachers or students may request a referral to see the counselor. Students first make the request to their teacher. Teachers then make the contact with the counselor. Parents may also make a request directly to the counselor.

Helpful parent resources

Counselors for each campus are certified by the state of Texas in School Counseling, have a Master’s Degree, and previous teaching experience. Each elementary school has a guidance counselor to help ensure that adequate support for helping students to succeed and meet their goals is available.

Visit the district website for more information about the GISD Guidance & Counseling programs.


No student should be subjected to bullying or harassment that interferes with their ability to learn or their safety.

Visit the Bullying Prevention and Investigation page on the district website for more information and resources.

Anonymous Alerts®

You can use the Anonymous Alerts® webform or mobile app to quickly, easily and anonymously report bullying, cyberbullying and other sensitive topics to school officials.

Anonymous Alerts® is monitored by GISD Security 24-hours daily and should only be used for serious and urgent matters. In the event of an emergency or life-threatening event, always call 911.

Submit an Anonymous Alert®

Download the app

To place a report from a mobile device, first download the free Anonymous Alerts® app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. Then open the app and enter activation code garlandisd.