6:39 p.m. PST January 26, 2016
Claggett Creek Middle School has received national recognition for its counseling services from the American School Counselor Association.
The school was informed last week that it will receive the Recognized ASCA Model Program designation for “making an exemplary commitment to comprehensive school counseling programs.”
The designation is awarded to schools that align with the criteria set in the association’s national model, recognizing schools that are committed to delivering comprehensive, data-driven school counseling programs and exemplary educational environments
More than 600 schools have been designated since the program’s inception in 2003.
“This year’s honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, the association’s assistant director and the program’s coordinator, in a prepared statement. “This designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to continue to strive for excellence.”
Claggett Creek Middle School in Keizer is the only middle school in the state to receive such recognition, and one of only a handful of Oregon schools in general. Hallman Elementary School and South Salem High School in Salem have both been recognized in the past.
Claggett Creek has an average student population of 950 students, more than half or whom qualify for free and reduced lunch. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the students are enrolled in special education, homeless education or migrant education programs.
Claggett Creek’s counseling team consists of Kelly Greer, Erin Nichols, Ashley DeLaRosa and Samuel Wilkerson, only one of whom works full-time.
DeLaRosa said it took a few years for the program to get everything in order and ready to apply for the designation.
This is the first year the counseling services have been provided a budget, she said, meaning they had to reach out to sponsors, apply for grants, and more to get the programs up and running in the past.
“It took a few years to find our areas of strength and weakness,” DeLaRosa said. In order to do so, the schools have to audit their programs, compare their results to the national standards, and fix any gaps between the two.
After that, they go through the application process, providing several hundreds of pages of data and information to the association for review.
Greer said their program is already data-driven and comprehensive in nature, so it was easier to implement some of the national standards and apply for the recognition.
The school has program goals, a mission statement, an advisory council and much more. They submit action plans, host support groups, and have a peer mentoring program.
“This signifies a lot for our community and for the Keizer community,” DeLaRosa said. “It shows we are doing what’s right for the kids.”
Greer agreed, saying this designation shows they are complying with the national standards.
“To even be aware of them (the standards) is a step in a direction other programs don’t have yet,” she said.
DeLaRosa said every day is a different adventure.
She said one day, she may see 5-15 students on an individual basis, conduct a couple of support groups and attend parent/teacher meetings. Another day, she may see fewer students one on one, but might conduct more support groups, facilitate parents meetings and meet with our leadership and peer helper students to plan for upcoming events. There are also days when she may be in classes co-teaching with a health teacher about suicide prevention or college and career readiness.
“I love that every day is so different and that I get to interact with many students and parents in so many different ways,” she said.
DeLaRosa said that as a team, the four counselors currently have more than 10 percent of their student population in support groups that meet weekly. These groups cover topics such as grief and loss, friendship and family issues and academic preparedness, she said.
“We use our prevention programs — such as big brother/sister program, peer mediations, and new student orientation — to help prevent being in ‘crisis mode’ all the time,” she said. “We work in a high needs school and by utilizing a data driven prevention model, we are able to meet all students needs according to the American School Counseling Association guidelines.”
Greer and DeLaRosa said they still have big dreams for the school’s counseling services — their biggest dream being a college and career center.
“This recognition won’t stop us from growing,” DeLaRosa said.