Eastern Top 3 from Regional Training

Second Step Program Purchased for Phillips County School

Katrena Palmer, Phillips County Block Grant

I sat down with the Malta Middle School Counselor and we had an extensive talk about the success of the elementary school Social-Emotional Learning Second Step program within their community.  She was loving the results of the kids coming into middle school and decided she would like to pursue a 5 year license for the program.  

With the entire middle school curriculum coming in at just over $7,350.00, at the end of the school year there was just not enough funding left for the counselor to purchase this type of program.  I reached out to some of the supportive community organizations and asked if they would be interested in collaborating with prevention to get the school this program. Together, the Malta Health Department, Phillips County Behavioral Health Board, Prevention and funding from a Phillips County safety grant pooled together enough funds to assist the school in purchasing the program. With each business or group contributing $1,000.00 or more, it was a motivating factor in working to make this happen. To assist in the sustainability and implementation of the program, the EMCMHC Prevention Director and Malta Public Schools Superintendent signed a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the program would be purchased and used as planned. Due to the large collaborative effort and seeing the support pour in from the community, it was a fairly simple process to set up the MOU and the Superintendent was eager to enter into this agreement. 

Together this effort will impact a large number of students.  Having the same SEL curriculum for all kids age 5-14 is a huge win and sets up that county for success later on. I cannot wait to see some of the results in upcoming years through our assessments in Phillips County. 

  • Collaboration with School Resource Officer

Lucy Corbett, Custer County Block Grant

Custer County Schools welcomed a School Resource Officer for the 2020-2021 school year.  According to Police Chief Doug Colombik “SRO Fenner has been extremely busy building relationships with students, teachers and parents. In September, he began doing presentations in driver education classes and spoke to younger students about bicycle safety. In November SRO Fenner gave important presentations such as bullying, sexting, fighting and name calling. His presence has definitely made a huge impact for Miles City’s kids!”

I have been working with the SRO, teaching him about primary prevention and discussing additional ways to implement prevention activities. I requested funding for SRO Fenner to attend the Montana Drug and Alcohol Summit in January of this year. He shared how much knowledge he gained from this training experience and is looking forward to collaborating with Prevention Services. We are discussing implementing an evidence-based prevention program into the middle school.

I also met with the Vice Principal at the High School, Kasey Koehler. She shared having a SRO for a resource creates a bridge between school and the community. She further shared having the SRO resource as extra support is vitally important to the students and teachers at schools. She recognizes the difference in response to authority when youth are presented with someone in uniform. 

For prevention, the addition of the SRO has created a relationship with the school that had not been there previously. We hope to leverage this in the future when we are coordinating activities, trying to get the school district to take the PNA for the first time, and adding other programs into the school. 

  • Continued Success with Student Assistance Program in Phillips County

Katrena Palmer, Phillips County Block Grant

Dodson Public School has been nothing short of wonderful to work with. Their openness to change, willingness to try new things and collaborative efforts made them a prime candidate for the Student Assistance Program. The goal, as was made perfectly clear from the beginning, was to ensure any program or initiative the SAP took on ends up fully functioning within the school with little need to involve the Prevention Specialist, except for consistent evaluations for improvement. DPS’s school board did an initial reading of the SAP board policy and has loved the success of the program thus far. 

Initially, most questions about the program were run through EMCMHC’s prevention specialist while details and best practices for each agency were being sorted. Within this SAP, came the counseling piece, which is provided by Eastern MT Community Mental Health Center.  Billing for services was an initial concern, so the superintendent offered to pay for the students’ counseling via school funding stating that it was not an issue, because the school just wanted to help them. Everything was run by EMCMHC’s CEO Brenda Kneeland and after the signoff, other details were ironed out including implementation paperwork, understanding of confidentiality, best places to conduct sessions, and so forth..  

Weeks later, and after a flood of intake paperwork, all appointments are run through the receptionist with little assistance from the county PS.Currently, seven students have enrolled in counseling services and are regularly scheduling appointments and receiving services within the school. This has created a seamless, sustainable policy that will ensure services are offered to each student in need well into the future.

Student Assistance Programs continue to be the gold standard for creating a positive and well-rounded student climate. It can be as complicated, or as basic as the school staff is willing to support; this makes it the perfect program for so many schools. Dodson School’s dedication to implementing a strong SAP has shown how many students can benefit from a successful policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *