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Elementary School Counseling Grant: Counselor Academy

December 21, 2004

The Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency recently received a $1.1 million No Child Left Behind grant for a new Elementary School Counseling Program from the US Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools to assist schools, in addressing the social-emotional needs of students. The Agency has been collaborating with five elementary schools during the past three years to develop effective school reform initiatives that meet student social-emotional needs and improve student learning performance. The new elementary counseling grant expands these practices to 18 elementary schools in 18 districts.

The elementary counseling grant is based on educational research that defines social-emotional learning as a process for integrating thinking, feeling and behavior to achieve important social tasks; meet personal and social needs; and develop the skills necessary to become a productive, contributing member of society and successful in school. Social-emotional learning focuses on students learning the skills involved in being self-confident and motivated, knowing what behaviors are expected, curbing impulses to misbehave, being able to wait, following directions, knowing how to ask for help, expressing needs, and getting along with others.

The new elementary counseling grant has two parts; first is direct support to 18 elementary schools in 18 districts. A social work facilitator will be in the building weekly to collaborate with the school guidance counselor and building teacher teams on addressing student social emotional needs and developing learning supports so that students improve their learning performance. The second part is the Counselor Academy training which occurs in the summer and throughout the school year. This training assists the school counselors in the transformation of their roles in schools and the utilization of effective learning strategies.

The Elementary Counseling grant is a collaborative activity integrating the efforts of classroom teachers, elementary guidance programs, and Mississippi Bend AEA services to improve the opportunities for all students to be successful in school. For further information contact the project leader: Cindy Swanson, MSW, cswanson@aea9.k12.ia.us (563) 344-6272.

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