In a city like Rochester, that has a high poverty rate, school counselors have the potential to make a world of difference. And in recent years, as their roles have changed, from an academic focus to a personal one, the need for counselors has increased.
But now, one local university is taking steps to close the gap.
As the concern for mental health continues to grow, the importance of school counselors does as well. In the 2019-2020 academic year, New York State is making sure elementary school students have access to a school counselor.
“Giving them the opportunity to work around emotional literacy, to normalize the language of mental health, mental health wellness, understanding how depression impacts all of us,” said Ruth Turner, of the Rochester City School District.
Turner, who is the chief of student support services for RCSD, says it’s a positive addition, not only assisting with emotional feelings, but early academic guidance. These new positions mean counselors are in demand.
“We absolutely are always looking for counselors, particularly bilingual counselors,” Turner explains.
School districts across the State of New York, like the Rochester City School District, need counselors. Sometimes, getting that degree can be financially tough, but thanks to a scholarship from the U of R, that may change.
“Our students will be able to get a guaranteed 50 percent off tuition when they attend. And this will help them dramatically, since they are all juggling part-time work, full-time work,” explains Bonnie Rubenstein, University of Rochester.
That will begin for graduate students, starting next year in Fall 2019. Rubenstein, the director the of School Counseling Program at the University of Rochester, says the increase in mental health awareness has made this scholarship possible.
She says, “We train them in restorative practices here in our classes and then they have the opportunity to do practicum and internship at East. Many get hired there.”
It’s a scholarship not only helping U of R students, but the children who will be helped down the road.
Students, who accept the scholarship, have to stay in the United States for two years following graduation. The hope, says Rubenstein, is for graduates to be school counselors locally.