By Chris Bavender
Hamilton Southeastern Schools has received a one-time, four-year grant from the Lilly Endowment of a little more than $2.1 million as part of the Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 students. The grant includes elements to boost social-emotion learning, academic advising and college and career readiness for HSE students.
“Students who are connected to their schools are more successful on a number of levels, including attendance, behavior and academics,” HSE Supt. Allen Bourff said. “The essence of this grant is to build a more supportive network for each student within the Hamilton Southeastern Schools so that they are connected and experience the success that we want for each of them.”
The grant will be used in part to help the approximately 21,350 students within the school system by providing resources to allow school counselors to dedicate more time to the students. According to Bourff, counselors within the school district are expected to perform duties related to administrative functions and paperwork, which reduces the time they can dedicate to students.
“When I began working in HSE, it was clear that the levels of support our school counselors were able to offer students was not consistent, building to building, for a variety of reasons,” said Brooke Lawson, HSE mental health coordinator. “The grant is going to provide the school counselors in our district the opportunity to redefine their roles in how they support all students in areas of social-emotional learning, academic advising and college and career readiness.”
The money also will be utilized outside the classroom to help improve counseling practices and access within the community.
“The City of Fishers is a dynamic community with much to offer students as they explore the world beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom,” Bourff said. “For each student, however, to have a rewarding experience there must be coordination of purposeful student/community interaction.”
The Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation helped secure the grant.
“The strength of this grant is that it rallies all adults to be invested in the success and guidance of students. This includes not only school counselors, but also teachers, administrators and parents,” said Freedom Kolb, HSSF executive director. “At its core, this is a student success grant. School counselors are an integral part of student support in all HSE Schools.”
“Overall, my hope is that this grant will help increase student success in our school district to prepare all students socially, emotionally, academically and for whatever path they choose beyond high school,” Lawson said.
HSE is one of 52 public school corporations and five charter schools in the state to receive Lilly Endowment grants.