District counselors report to school board on goals to help students
By Lloyd Call
GUNNISON—District counselors were front and center, talking about strategies to address dropout rates, cases of chronic absences, students not enrolling in advanced courses during the South Sanpete School District board meeting last Wednesday.
“As counselors, we spend a lot of time deciding what goals we want to achieve to help our students, said Sharon Meacham, counselor at Gunnison Valley Middle School. “We look at data to find out where we can help the most students with the most pressing problems.”
For example, to improve dropout rates and reduce chronic absences, the counselors went over a flow chart of interventions, based on number of days absent, ranging from meetings with students up to truancy prevention classes for students and parents and restorative intervention teams.
Data on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the application that opens the door to federal financial aid for college, show that 46 percent of South Sanpete high school students applied in 2018.
The district goal was to increase that number by 15 percent. The counselors have exceeded their goal. To date in 2019, 62 percent of students have applied, a 16 percent increase.
Some students don’t know that they can submit their FAFSA to multiple institutions. Ordinarily, there is a fee for each institution after the first one, but students have learned it is possible to get the fees waived, said Superintendent Kent Larsen.
“What the counselors do is help the district achieve its mental health awareness goals. Together with our increased emphasis on student safety, the counselors make a real difference,” Larsen said.
The counselors who addressed the board included Sharon Meacham, Lori Dunne, Mandi Thomas, Kris Pogroszewski and Janika Broomhead.
The board also recognized district athletes who were named to the Academic All-State teams for fall sports: Berklley Peterson and Kaylee Dyreng, with the Gunnison Valley High School tennis team; Emma Allred, Kaylee Searle and Megan Masters with the Manti High School volleyball team; Kara Justesen and Nicole Nelson with the Manti High girls soccer team; and Brandon Tucker with the Gunnison High football team.
Also, the Manti High School volleyball and soccer teams as a whole took first in academics in their regions.
Finally, the board heard from the new Manti Elementary School principal David Ipson. He said he was working with five new teachers. His goals included an “improving literacy power hour,” character improvement, and increasing student confidence through copies strategies, a “refocus “ room and the Leader-in-Me program.
His best achievement so far? Getting the old worn out orange carpet replaced in the gym.