Dublin Villager

New counseling program pilot to debut at 4 schools

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Fourth- and seventh-graders at four Dublin City Schools will get a taste of new programs before they are rolled out to the rest of the district next year.

A $300,000 grant from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County started a partnership between the school district and Syntero at the Dublin Counseling Center that is currently being piloted at Deer Run and Wright elementary schools and Davis and Sells middle schools.

To kick off the partnership, Dublin City Schools staff members met with the Dublin Counseling Center to look at needs in the district, said Janet Gillig executive director of student services for Dublin schools.

"It's great to have Syntero provide professional development," she said.

The pilots will run at the four buildings for fourth- and seventh-graders then spread to other Dublin schools and grades next year.

At the pilot schools, teachers will work with guidance counselors to identify students who might benefit from being part of groups on social skills, stress management, self-esteem, divorce, coping with anxiety or depression and anger management.

"We need parent approval before we go forward," Gillig said of the student services.

Parent and community trainings are also funded with the grant and include sessions about positive parenting skills, the impact of social media on children, mental health disorders in children, single parenting and understanding and managing self-injurious behavior.

Some students already receive counseling at the schools, but the new partnership is expected to expand services throughout the district and help more students.

"When we wrote the grant we wanted to reach out for more services. It's preventative," Gillig said.

"We'll see how this really works. At an early age we can help before it's too late."

Working with a pilot group will also help the district determine what works and what does not.

"We can see where the students started from," Gillig said. "We have a baseline."

School staff could also benefit from the program with professional development from the Dublin Counseling Center on subjects such as bullying preventions, crisis prevention and signs or symptoms of mental health disorders.

A needs assessment was developed for buildings to determine what trainings and groups would best work at each school for a more custom-built approach.

"The grant calls for accountability," Gillig said. "There will be evaluations to see the growth."

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