BR Gets Planning Grant to Review Counseling Program
Posted on 02/24/2017

Barr-Reeve gets planning grant to review its counseling program

MONTGOMERY - Barr-Reeve Superintendent Travis Madison announced last week the school received a $30,000 planning grant from the Lilly Foundation through its Comprehensive Counseling Initiative.

The grant is to help corporations review their current counseling programs and expand the scope of the counseling offered to all students. On Thursday evening, the first part of the planning grant was put into action when more than 20 community members attended a work session led to Alisa Deck with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning or CELL.

The corporation, Madison said, is calling the initiative "BR Viking Ready."

"Being 'BR Viking Ready' is being prepared for whatever is next when they leave our classrooms in whatever pathway they may choose," said Madison, adding that includes broadening partnerships in the community and region to help students gain opportunities beyond the classroom. "We want out students to have a strong work ethic, be academically and personally and socially prepared to enter the world of work and to possess soft skills and career awareness necessary to be successful in today's society."

Madison said elementary counselor Mandy Hannah and junior/senior high school counselor Chastity Sward do a wonderful job with the 835 students enrolled in the corporation, but they want to do even better.

"I'm very proud of what we do here," he said, before turning the program over to Deck who was assisted by Jim Russell. "Mandy and Chastity do an amazing job. I like to think of this as being similar to building a house. If we had the opportunity to build again, what would we do? We want to be more intentional with what we do. This planning grant will help us decide if we want to go a step further and apply for an implementation grant that would be for up to $100,000."

Deck and Russell conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats or SWOT analysis to help determine what comprehensive counseling could look like at Barr-Reeve. From parental support and academic achievement to small class size and community pride, the list of strengths for the corporation was lengthy, but Deck challenged the group to think outside the box.

"What can we do more?" she asked.

The group also identified some things that could be worked on including better marketing of the dual credit college opportunities for students and educating students of their options after high school among several others.

"So many of our kids are focused on getting back here," said Aaron Ash, the corporation's athletic director and assistant principal at the high school. "We have kids that went into nursing and would have been doctors. They need to find out what makes them happy, but they want to make their parents happy."

Internships and other opportunities to learn more about career options were also discussed.

Before concluding the program, Deck and Russell had attendees list a variety of resources available to the community. Those lists, which included services organizations, community and religious leaders and many others, will be used to help put the next steps in place.

"We'll take all this information back and summarize it," said Deck.

Madison said other meetings to get the community involved will take place in the coming weeks.

"We'll have more of the session where parents and other community members can get involved in the process," he said.

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