Students don’t just leave their personal problems at the classroom door each day.
One principal in Tooele County said he made arrangements for a student’s family to use a washer and dryer at the school after finding out the student’s family was homeless and living in one of Tooele County’s canyons.
Concerned about the behavior of the student, a teacher found out that the student’s parents were in the process of getting a divorce.
“You can’t expect a student to sit in a classroom and learn when their basic needs aren’t being met,” said Marianne Oborn, Tooele County School District’s social services and counseling director.
When elementary students in Tooele County School District return to school on Aug. 21, each elementary school will have a half-time school counselor dedicated to work on social and emotional health.
“Elementary counselors are part of the district’s commitment to a positive environment,” Oborn said. The addition of elementary counselors should help with bullying and suicide issues as well as other social and emotional concerns, according to Oborn.
With 16 elementary schools, the school district had three elementary counselors last school year. The district was awarded a grant earlier this month from the state for $250,000 for each of the next three years to cover the costs of hiring five additional elementary school counselors.
The district decided to increase the impact of the grant by putting a half-time counselor in each elementary school.
The grant was based on a competitive application. It was funded by money set aside by the state Legislature for elementary counselors, according to Oborn.
Each counselor will a have a degree in educational counseling, she said.
The counselors will implement a school-based mental health program tailored to the needs of the students at each school as determined by a needs assessment.
“The counselors will work in classrooms, with groups of students, as well as with individual students,” Oborn said.
The counselors will support social and emotional learning programs already implemented by schools, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, the district’s Second Steps social and emotional learning program, the CHAMPS classroom management system, Professional Learning Communities, Teacher Assistant Team and Individualized Education Plans.
The counselors will assist students with behavior issues, homelessness, coping with the death of a loved one, or students whose parents are getting divorced among other issues, according to Oborn.
“This is exciting news for our school district,” said Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent. “I believe that the climate and the mental health of students is just as important as their academic health.”
New and existing elementary school counselors will serve Anna Smith, Copper Canyon, Grantsville, Ibapah, Middle Canyon, Northlake, Old Mill, Overlake, Rose Springs, Settlement Canyon, Stansbury, Sterling, West and Willow elementary schools.