VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - While school is out, administrators and faculty continue to work in Vigo County.
"The needs of students have changed drastically," said Yevonne Jones, school counselor.
Jones, along with a few of her colleagues, met with News 10 on Wednesday afternoon. They said times have changed when it comes to providing effective resources to students, especially at the middle school level where they serve.
"They struggle a lot with just trying to figure out who they are and where they belong," said Counselor Lorrie Scheidler, "That's what we deal with a lot is those issues that get in the way of learning."
Scheidler, who has worked with middle school children for 16 years, said issues, like poverty, can bring a host of problems for students, and in some cases even block their ability to see toward their future, such as pursuing the next level of their education.
"For certain kids, career is the way to go, for other kids college," said Asst. Director of Student Services Rick Stevens, "College is not for everybody."
Thanks to a Lilly Endowment grant, it's making counselors even more excited about the options they can provide for students, whether it be college or the workforce.
"This affords us the ability to kind of open their eyes to many other options that are out there for them," said Counselor Laurie Setliff.
Vigo County is one of 39 school districts to receive the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative Grant. Vigo County was awarded $1.39 million to help with implementing college and career readiness throughout all 28 schools.
The grant will also allow the district to hire two counselor coaches to help lead the charge.
"They'll be implementing the grant out in the trenches there with the 28 schools," said Stevens, "They'll be working with the reading and writing teachers at the elementary level, developing career lesson plans and things of that nature."
"We're also having them work with a media specialist," Stevens added, "They'll be working with career plans with the media specialists, all of the elementary kids always go into the media center. So we're really excited about that."
Grant dollars will VCSC implement programs like NEAT, which Stevens said provides current robotics and computer modules for students, as well as virtual welding.
The grant will also allow and develop new school counseling approaches that effectively address academic, college, career and social and emotional counseling needs of students.
In addition to that, Stevens said the money will strengthen partnerships between the school corporation and area colleges like Indiana State University, Ivy Tech Community College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. With their help, Stevens said they'll be able to provide high school to college connections in areas such as dual credit, along with expert training for counselors and administrators and access to digital resources in career and college guidance.
"We just feel we want to do a better, more effective job, of moving career and college down our level from high school, down to middle school, down to elementary," Stevens said.
Counselors News 10 spoke with on Wednesday said they were excited about the new plan, and they can't wait to share it with students this upcoming school year.
"Having a career and doing something you love is such a great gift," said Setliff, "and we as school counselors are awarded that gift, being able to do what we love, and working with kids and hopefully helping them find that pathway for them in doing something that they would love as well."
The grant is a four year period and will run from July 2018 until the end of June 2022. Stevens said they will roll out the plan this school year and are already interviewing candidates for the two counseling coach positions.
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