The 2019-2020 school year marked change for Mercer school counselors with a new initiative to help the counselors be more available to students.
“We have taken the building assessment coordinator responsibilities off our counselors to make them more available to students,” said Dennis Davis, superintendent of Mercer County Schools. “This is another way we are being proactive at giving our students what they need.”
Davis said the responsibilities have been reshuffled to principals, assistant principals and other staff.
“We saw that many kids needed help from the counselors during the testing periods and they were not available,” said Davis. “The counselors are no longer the registrars either, they are now available to give a comprehensive school counseling program.”
Davis said the school board also approved the hiring of a full time social worker and a part time district counselor.
Davis signed an official proclamation naming Monday, Feb.3, through Friday, Feb. 7, officially School Counselor week for Mercer County Schools.
Mercer County is one of many districts who are turning to the comprehensive counseling program since the passing of the School Safety and Resilience Act which requires counselors to spend 60 percent of their time counseling students.
The effectiveness of school counseling programs showed in empirical studies is one of the reasons it was included in the School Safety Act according to Amy Riley, counselor for Mercer County Intermediate School.
“The American School Counselor Association lobbied to include counselors into that bill,” said Riley.
A comprehensive list of the studies and their results is available at the American School Counselor Association’s website.
“We have seen tangible results in behavior since the comprehensive counseling program was implemented, said Riley. “Our referrals have gone down and our kids are learning necessary social and emotional skills.”
Cynthia Russell, counselor for Mercer County Senior High School said, “We are running more groups and seeing more kids on a daily basis. We are building relationships and are more open to help them when they need it.”
All school counselors in attendance of the event agreed the new programs were having a positive impact on students.
For more information, visit www.schoolcounselor.org.