In what school administrators call an attempt to be proactive and provide interventions before a crisis occurs, the Conotton Valley School district is moving forward with adding a Mental Health Counselor to the staff.
“I was very pleased the Conotton Valley Board of Education supported my stance on hiring a Mental Health Counselor,” explained Superintendent Todd Herman. “Mental health resources have been a need in schools for quite some time. Mental Health is a regular topic of discussion at the local superintendent meetings. We are always searching for ways to get these resources into our schools.”
Superintendent Herman is joined by the district’s Guidance Counselor, Kelli Edwards, and Nurse Jill Putnam, in efforts to create the position within the district.
“Conotton Valley is not unique in the fact that we are seeing the need for these services and we do take care of the immediate needs within the school between the guidance and school nurse’s office,” said Edwards. “It is those that are facing long-term needs that we are struggling to fill the need.”
During the school board meeting this week, Edwards and Putnam spoke about the current approach to mental health counseling services within the district. They noted current flaws and a dedication to correcting the system.
At this time, the district is served by a private service, Personal & Family Counseling Services, based out of New Philadelphia. The agency provides statistics on the number of students in need of and receiving counseling services.
Edwards also noted the Conotton Valley district is unique in that it serves student from both Carroll and Harrison Counties, which offer their own ADAMH’s Boards. The organization governs funding for mental health services provided to the public.
“We are using services from a local group, but staffing has been difficult for them since they service other districts, as well,” noted Edwards.”
So, in an effort to alleviate the issues at hand, the school board agreed to begin searching for an onsite clinical counselor over the next few months.
Edwards noted that the move just makes sense and will help the district meet the needs of students faced with situations beyond their control. “That makes for a healthier student and more productive adult,” she added.
She also outlined her idea of the perfect candidate:
“The qualities of a good counselor should include a proper license, a warm personality, experience working with children, ethical behavior and the ability to keep confidential information private. Also, the ability to work in a school environment. If the person possesses these qualities, the students and staff will be able to rely on this person for their long-term needs.”
“It seems that over the past several years the field of education has become a punching bag,” added Superintendent Herman. “I want to assure the community that the local school districts are filled with people that love kids. The students are our most important commodity, and we are dedicated to providing them the best education possible within a safe atmosphere.”
Michaela Madison Reporting