SPCSC awarded Lilly counseling grant
At their monthly meeting Wednesday evening, South Putnam school officials were pleased to hear that the school corporation would be getting some major funding to help its students.
South Putnam Community Schools was recently awarded a $112,000 counseling grant through the Lilly Endowment, currently the only school corporation in the county to do so.
The grant is designed to allow Indiana school corporations to improve their counseling services by encouraging them to adopt new strategies to meet students’ mental, social and career needs.
At the meeting, South Putnam counselors Brian Gardner and Heath Pruitt discussed what the grant could do to achieve this goal.
Pruitt, with input from South Putnam’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology Integration Tona Gardner, gave the board a big-picture view.
Tona Gardner informed the room that the grant was going to spread out over four years, from July 2018 to June 2022.
She also provided that much had already been put into the grant proposal, as the grant was previously awarded a year-and-a-half ago.
South Putnam put in for the grant then and was not selected, but its second round proposal paid off.
“A lot of work has been put into getting this grant, “ Gardner said.
“And it is going to help us help our students tremendously.”
Pruitt echoed this as he talked about how the grant would allow for him and other faculty and staff to address concerns with counseling performance.
“One of the things that our seniors were telling us was that they wished they had more individual attention,” Pruitt said. “We obviously can’t get to everyone at one time, but being able to address their career concerns has been a major point. We want them to go across the stage and be prepared.”
Brian Gardner then followed to discuss the specific tools that will be used through the grant. He made a big point about being able to have presentations in the schools’ cafeterias.
He said that it was important to use the grant for this because it would allow him, Pruitt and others to have a conversation with students on topics like anti-bullying and college searches.
Gardner also stressed the importance that a digital bulletin board would have.
“It would be a system of up-to-date information for students, not information that has been on a traditional board for the past six months.”
Gardner also said that the grant would help the Counseling, College and Career Student Center better implement a career success platform called Naviance.
The program allows students to chart a path for success after high school through activities that gauge career interest and college searches.
In line with that effort, Gardner also said that the grant would help him and others fund days when students can visit college campuses.
“All of this will be directed at informing out students about what is out there,” Gardner said. “They will know what to expect after they graduate. And this will extend to even before high school, because we want them prepared.”
Pruitt and Gardner also discussed the creation of a new faculty position, future focused coordinator, which will be intended to facilitate addressing students’ needs and reach out to them.
Mrs. Gardner also discussed the format of NWEA testing guidelines and expectations, saying that tracking student assessments would also help counselors address students’ needs.
• In addition, the board accepted the resignations of several staff members: Josh Hendrickson as as middle school/high school special education teacher, Kathy Settles as transportation director, Brady Rhodes as varsity baseball coach and Emily Skoniecke as junior class sponsor and drill team sponsor.
• The board also accepted four new hires: Cara Cash as middle school/high school special education teacher, Riesha Dittemore as Title I teacher at Central Elementary, Josie Parent as teacher at Central Elementary and Bradley Ogborn as transportation director.
The SPCSC Board of Trustees will next meet on August 8 at 7 p.m. at South Putnam High School.