Lilly bestows more than $100,000 on county schools

Friday, February 10, 2017

As part of a five-year, statewide effort by Lilly Endowment Inc., each school district in the county is set to receive $30,000 for its respective guidance department, bringing the total grant donation to $120,000 for Putnam County alone.

These “Comprehensive Counseling Initiative” planning grants will be divided between 284 Indiana school corporations from a pool of $9.14M, each receiving totals based on enrollment. With all four Putnam County schools being of similar size, each will receive close to the maximum $50,000.

The smallest grants to be received by some Indiana schools range down to $8,302.

As part of the planning grant process, recipients will spend the next three months collecting and analyzing data, assessing their current counseling programs, identifying their best practices, visiting promising programs and engaging community partners alongside respective plans expressed by each district.

Sara Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education, said the company’s prediction numbers were surpassed the number of applications ultimately received.

“The Endowment is very encouraged by the response to the request for planning grants,” she said. “The number of proposals exceeded our estimates, which indicates that school across Indiana want their counseling programs to be as effective as possible; they recognize the importance of counseling (for) students’ future success and quality of life.”

Each school has a number of counselors in its guidance department who are ready to move ahead with plans to apply the funds. They are:

• Greencastle

Counselors: Rose Stephens, director of guidance at GHS; Kevin Kendall, school counselor at GHS; Kathi Asbell, director of guidance at GMS; Helen Dunn, school counselor at GMS; Megan Smith, school counselor at Tzouanakis Intermediate; and Megan Ward, school counselor at both Ridpath Primary and Deer Meadow Primary.

Plans: “GCSC will use the planning grant to partner with a consultant to assist in research and analysis of our current counseling programs, as well as grant writing for the competitive Implementation grant,” School Counselor Ward said, citing a future grant. “A portion of the grant will be used for professional development of the corporation’s six school counselors, the school psychologist and the superintendent at the American School Counselor Association Conference in July. The counselors (also) plan to visit other school in Indiana, as well as gather input on our programs from various stakeholders.

“As school counselors, we want to ensure we are using the best practices in our programs to serve our students.”

• North Putnam

Counselors: Lauren Alspaugh, director of guidance at NPHS; Jesse Winger, school counselor at NPHS; Alyssa Ward, school counselor at NPMS; Dan McMurtry, school counselor at Roachdale Elementary; and Jeanna Amos, school counselor at Bainbridge Elementary.

Plans: “Our schools will use this planning grant to help redesign our counseling programs within our corporation,” NPHS Principal Jason Chew said. “Alspaugh has spearheaded this effort to work with the American Student Achievement Institute using the Redesigning School Counseling (RSC) model to determine where our strengths and challenges currently exist.

“This data will then allow us to determine what our needs are and how best our corporation can address these needs,” Chew continued. “We are very thankful for the grant funds made available by the Lilly Endowment and appreciate (its) commitment to our school and specifically our counseling department.”

• South Putnam

Counselors: Kristin Hendrich, school counselor at SPHS; Brian Gardner, school counselor at SPHS and SPMS; Heath Pruitt, school counselor at SPHS and SPMS; and Corey Brackney, school counselor at Fillmore and Central elementaries.

Plans: “We are very excited to be chosen as a recipient,” Hendrich said. “We are using the funds in a few different ways -- most of the funds are going to purchase a pilot of a web-based program to improve our college and career readiness programming here at South Putnam.

“It will allow us to collect all kinds of data to identify social and emotional needs, as well as college, career and educational readiness presently within the school,” Hendrich added. “It will also allow us to track our students after graduation -- we will use this data to develop plans to best prepare students to get to know themselves better as they will be able to complete assessments to identify their learning styles, motivations and college and career interests.”

• Cloverdale

The Cloverdale Community School Corporation will be partnering with the Eminence Community School Corporation as it pertains to the Endowment. See a fully-comprehensive press release included as this story’s sidebar in today’s edition of the Banner Graphic.

Cobb explained the goal of the initiative in a recent press release.

“The Endowment is committing funds to this initiative because Indiana needs to increase significantly the number of K-12 students who are emotionally healthy, can realize academic success and graduate from high school,” she said, “And Indiana’s students need to achieve valuable post-secondary credentials, certificates and degrees that are essential for meaningful employment so they can compete and prosper in the global society in which they will live and work.

“We continue to hear that many Indiana employers have difficulty finding workers (who are) adequately prepared for the jobs they have available.”

Indiana’s current school counseling challenges are part of a larger landscape of lagging educational achievements and economic prosperity.

According to U.S. Census data, in 2014 Indiana ranked 43rd in the nation in the percentage of adults, age 25 to 64, with at least a bachelor’s degree. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2015 Indiana ranked 39th in the nation in per capita income, having slipped from 29th in the nation since 1995.

“At the Endowment, we believe that enhancing and expanding in a comprehensive way the academic, college, career, and social and emotional counseling in Indiana’s schools could help reverse Indiana’s negative trends,” Cobb said. “Addressing these challenges is critical to the future quality of life for Indiana residents.”

For more information about the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative planning grants, the upcoming and competitive Implentation Grant or Lilly Endowment Inc., visit

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