March 2, 2014

Program at Pioneer to benefit at-risk students

Four County continues to partner with others to promote success

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — ROYAL CENTER — Leaders at Four County Counseling Center and Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School have been working together to make a new program available for at-risk students in the Pioneer school district.

The PRIDE program will begin in the fall for qualifying at-risk students in seventh to 10th grade at Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School.

The program will offer both group and individual assistance in developing and implementing organizational and study skills, Pioneer Regional School Corp. program spokeswoman Penny Bannon said.

Two case managers from Four County will run the program. They will be available to assist with functioning in the classroom setting and will collaborate with teachers, counselors and administrators, Bannon said.

“What we always have to look at is making sure every segment of the population has the best opportunity to be successful,” Bannon said. “Every school has the need to have more staffing for additional academic, social and emotional student support.”

Bannon has been working closely with Elizabeth Avery, director of school-based programming at Four County, and Tiffany Greiner, a Four County case manager, to develop the PRIDE program.

Although the program will target at risk students, there will not be specific criteria immediately, said Avery, who will be overseeing the project.

The program may have students who are struggling academically or students who have had a tough experience and need extra support, Avery said. Faculty at the school will be able to recommend a student who would benefit from the program.

Four County has been involved at the school in the past, but there has never been a formal program until now, Avery said.

PRIDE isn’t a long-term program, she said. The goal is to assist students with building skills necessary to function all day in school, whether they need help organizing things academically or managing stress, Avery said.

“We get them to the point they don’t need us,” Avery said.

In the fall, there will most likely be 10 to 15 kids in the program.

There will be two different curriculum models used to emphasize brainstorming, problem-solving and discovery of full potential and assist students with coping with stress and learning how to bounce back from difficulty.

The overall goal of school-based programming is for the encouragement and academic success of students, Bannon said.

School-based programming that integrate mental health is becoming more and more important in school environments.

There is such a high demand on teachers, guidance counselors, staff and faculty in schools, Avery said.

“We’re doing what we can to take that load off of their hands,” Avery said. “There are demands on students and we want to support them in that capacity as well.”

All grades at the school will have new programming available to them in the fall. Students in seventh through 10th grade will have the PRIDE program. Students in 11th and 12th grade will have Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) programming available to them.

Bannon said she was thankful for the additional support programs for students.

“It makes us feel we’re doing everything possible,” Bannon said.

The program will take place at the school, so it won’t take students away from school and parent involvement will be encouraged, Bannon said.

Both Avery and Bannon would like to see the program continue to expand.

Avery commended the school’s willingness to think outside of the box to meet the needs of kids.

“It speaks highly of these communities that they’re willing to come to the table with different agencies to figure out what will work,” Avery said.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.