Three Baldwin County schools receive the Program of Distinction Award for School Counseling

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 1/20/20

Three Baldwin County schools were among the five recipients of the Program of Distinction Award for School Counseling at the Alabama School Counselor Association Annual Conference in Montgomery. The …

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Three Baldwin County schools receive the Program of Distinction Award for School Counseling

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Three Baldwin County schools were among the five recipients of the Program of Distinction Award for School Counseling at the Alabama School Counselor Association Annual Conference in Montgomery. The award was for the 2018-2019 school year, and made its debut at this year’s conference. The winning schools were Foley Middle School, Fairhope Elementary School, and Fairhope Intermediate School. All three schools are now eligible to attend the ASCA (American School Counselor Association) National Conference in Seattle, Washington in June 2020, where they will win the RAMP award, marking the first time in 20 years an Alabama school has won at the national conference.

“This award mirrors the ASCA national model,” said Baldwin County Public School System Intervention Supervisor Patrice Davis. “Just like all academic areas have standards and objectives teachers are supposed to cover each year, it’s the same thing with counseling. We have a course of study, a program that is to be set up to focus on meeting the needs of students.” The award is given to counseling programs that went above and beyond to meet their course standards and documentation.

“At the beginning of each year we do a needs assessment with our parents, teachers, and students,” said Foley Middle School Counselor Jennifer Kukes. “When we get those back we either come in early or stay late to count up all the information, and we look at what resources we have and how we can help our students. We usually focus on grades, attendance, behavior, and this year we looked at our English language learners.”

During the award ceremony, nine schools from Baldwin County received the RAVE award: Elberta High, Foley Middle, Fairhope Elementary, Silverhill School, Magnolia School, Fairhope High, Gulf Shores Elementary (who were still part of the Baldwin County School System during the 2018-2019 school year), Daphne Middle, and Foley Intermediate.

Counselors do everything from provide guidance to students, provide meals, check in with low-attendance students when absent, and tutoring. They talk with students who may be going through something difficult at home or at school, provide resources for parents and students alike, and educate students on bullying, suicide, mental health, tolerance, and much more.

“This is part of why it has been such a spectacular achievement,” said Davis. “We’re not in the business to win awards, but I believe our counselors should be recognized for the hard work that they’re doing on their school campus, and I want them to be recognized not only at their schools locally, but at the state and national level. This lets people know how important school counseling is and what these counselors are doing, because we also want to know what we’re doing is making a difference. The lessons we’re teaching, the activities we’re providing the students, all of those things make a difference with our students and how they’re interacting in their daily lives.”