US Department of Education Counseling Grant
Sweetwater County School District #1 received a US Department of Education Counseling Grant that will strengthen Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at Eastside Elementary, Pilot Butte Elementary, and Desert School. The grant supports an additional counselor in each school, decreasing the student to counselor ratio.
As Project Director, Jessica Castillo coordinates the grant and helps to support Desert School. Jessica is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a background working in community mental health with children and adolescents. “We are pleased to have received this grant; it is going to bring a lot of great opportunities to the district. I am grateful to be involved and look forward to providing additional support to our students.”
Kimberly Drane, also a Licensed Professional Counselor, has worked with students for many years in a community college setting. At Pilot Butte Elementary Kimberly supports the goals of the counseling grant by providing individual and group counseling, classroom counseling with an emphasis on life skills and social skills, and offering support and input for the PBIS team.
Matthew Hanson holds a master’s degree specializing in school counseling. He is a school counselor at Eastside Elementary and supports the grant by creating an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard within school as a whole. Matthew provides group and individual counseling, as well as teaches a social skills curriculum called Second Step. He is also involved in a number of committees that focus on students, parents, and staff.
Desert School students are very excited about the implementation of a school store supporting PBIS. Students receive Coyote Cash to spend at the store based on good behavior. Students are also recognized for good behavior by being placed on a bulletin board if they “stay on green” all week. Making correct choices at school is of great importance and teachers and staff celebrate students each day with positive affirmation. The school store is an extra incentive to go above the intrinsic value of making good choices at school.
Eastside Elementary has several programs as part of a continued effort to support students both socio-emotionally and academically.
Digital Citizenship Family Night at Eastside focused on students' online safety. Chelsea Price, Miss Southwest Wyoming 2016, was the keynote speaker at the event. As an added bonus Eastside families made their favorite chili for the chili cook-off.
During advocacy groups, students are paired with an Eastside staff member and participate in activities fostering a connection with their given staff member. When students have better relationships with more adults at school they have tangible proof that they are supported.
Students who demonstrate their understanding of respectful, responsible, and safe behaviors are rewarded with prizes during an assembly. The yearlong PBIS program is designed to help students recognize the impact of their positive behavior and reinforce this behavior.
During Red Ribbon Week Eastside partnered with Lincoln Elementary to promote drug prevention. Students participated in a number of activities, including dress-up days, an assembly, a pledge signing, and more in order to promote a drug-free lifestyle.
Pilot Butte Elementary
“Bullying is when someone keeps being mean to someone else on purpose. The person it’s happening to hasn’t been able to make it stop. It is unfair and one-sided.” At Pilot Butte, students learn the difference between a bullying situation and a conflict situation with the goal of furthering students' understanding of bullying behavior and their responsibility as a positive bystander to bullying.
The Pilot Butte PBIS team recently opened a school store , “The Den,” where students can spend Wildcat PAW tickets earned for being Safe, Respectful and Responsible.
Happy at Heart, an after school group, is designed to help students better understand individuals who face various challenges as well as cope with situations in their own lives. Happy at Heart works with Hospice of Sweetwater County and Rock Springs High School Health Academy students.
Counselors work with students to “grow a culture of kindness" at Pilot Butte. Kind deed boards were created for students to select a random kind deed to perform for someone at school, home or in the community. After completing the kind deed, students report to the counselors and get a leaf to add to the kindness tree located in the foyer of Pilot Butte.