Over the next five years, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. officials will work to improve school counseling with the help of a $2.1 million grant.
Lilly Endowment recently awarded about $26.4 million to 52 Indiana public school corporations and five Indiana charter schools with a goal to strengthen counseling techniques to better address student needs.
The grants, which range from $68,312 to $2.9 million, are part of a five-year Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students.
EVSC Associate Superintendent Cathy Gray said the school district received the grant amount requested by officials, which was the second highest grant given.
“The best news is, the check is in the bank,” Gray told EVSC School Board members at a recent meeting.
Gray said the 284 school districts that submitted grants received a planning grant. The EVSC used the $50,000 planning grant to gather data and information from the district’s counselors, social workers, school psychologists and administrators.
“We identified our assets and gaps and worked hard to develop a proposal that aligned closely with our current GAIN initiative,” she said.
The EVSC defines their counseling team as counselors, social workers and school psychologists. A couple months ago, Gray said they received two days of “intense training.”
The effort to strengthen the school’s counseling program involves preparing kids for academic success, college and career readiness and supporting social and emotional needs, officials explained.
Two EVSC district initiatives are coaching and social-emotional learning, according to Stephanie Crandell, EVSC director of student support services and middle and high school counseling support.
Crandell said a new high school counselor coach will support high school counselors, and allow admin-istrators to build district capacity to “better support and align counseling work.”
The EVSC also partnered with Indiana State University to provide current interns the opportunity to work sideby- side with an EVSC counselor and receive on-the-job training.
Cyndie Carneal, EVSC director of attendance and elementary counseling support, said a new manager of assessments will also strengthen district capacity because the person in that role will support schools during testing times.
“This will help streamline the testing process and alleviate some counselor testing duties,” Carneal said. “This will free up the counselors to deliver direct services to students.”