GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County School District No. 2 announced Tuesday night that the district will be offering mental and emotional support for parents and staff in the form of two counselors.
“Two counselors will be changing their title a little bit to have the flexibility to be parent and family counselors,” Assistant Superintendent Alan Demaret told the Board of Trustees.
Demaret said that one of the dedicated uses of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds was to put it towards supporting staff, students, and families on emotional and mental needs.
One way the school district will be doing this is by adjusting the titles and work schedules of two guidance counselors to have them be available to work with parents, and staff when needed. Demaret said counseling agencies in the community are overwhelmed because there is such a demand for those services, and this will help parents and staff access the support they need.
“We’re really trying to address a need that’s been identified in our community where our families aren’t able to get into therapy,” he said.
Sarah Malicoat, Counselor at Washington Elementary, and Shannon Brichacek, Counselor at Green River High School (GRHS), will be changing their job titles to provide guidance for parents and staff. Demaret said they will help with several things including grief, family issues, or act as a liaison to provide parents and staff with other resources in the community.
“It is important for our stakeholders to understand that our traditional school counselors are focusing on social, emotional, and academic development in order to assist students with becoming successful learners. When we refer students for outpatient services, we look to assess the severity of the symptoms and provide in-depth therapy, based on a specific mental health need,” Demaret said.
“Our goal is for these district-issued therapists is to be accessible to both families and staff members, modeling the concept of a ‘school based wellness center’. There may be times when they need to be in our school buildings supporting teams, as we problem solve how to best support a student and his/her family; while other times, meeting individually with families or a staff member in a separate location to provide resources, guidance, and/or therapy as needed,” he added.
Demaret said that parent and staff training is an additional component to this concept that the district is looking forward to offering.
“While we acknowledge that many of our students and adults are struggling emotionally, we also understand the challenges with accessing traditional outpatient services. We hope to serve as a resource to these families and staff members to provide them with support and strategies for addressing whatever challenges they may be faced with,” Demaret said.
To ensure that students’ needs are continuing to be appropriately addressed in each of the district’s schools, the two school counselor positions will be replaced at Washington Elementary and GRHS. The cost of these two positions will be the same as two certified staff positions, which ranges based on years of experience and other variables found on the district’s salary schedule.
“The intent is for our therapists to start in the fall and be available to both families and staff as the needs are identified,” Demaret said.
The two therapists will be operating out of the Jackson Elementary building, which has been closed for regular school operations since 2018. This will keep matters discussed with the therapists personal and will provide a different environment than the school that parents’ kids go to or the school that staff works in.