Oregon State University-Cascades is working to get graduating counselors into local school districts thanks to a $3.9 million grant. That money, to be distributed over five years, will expand the school counselor masters degree program.
“We would do so well if we were able to access more counselors,” Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools Jay Mathisen said.
The U.S. Department of Education is sending the grant to help students pay for their classes. OSU-Cascades is one of 250 universities to receive a grant like this in the country, according to Assistant Professor in the counselor program, Lucy Purgason.
“Most of that funding goes directly to support student tuition, and, based on eligibility, a training stipend for students when they complete an internship,” Purgason said.
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Qualifiers for receiving some of the grant money are “Being committed to working in a high-need school in one of our four partnership districts,” according to Purgason.
These include Redmond, Bend La Pine, Crook County and Jefferson County School Districts.
“Something we’ll be looking for are individuals currently living or from these districts,” Purgason said.
Mathisen told us sourcing from local communities will help counselors connect with students.
“For us, in Jefferson County, that means that we might be able to hire in years to come some counselors that are more linguistically diverse and better reflect our diverse community,” Mathisen said.
Bend-La Pine Schools explained it has been tough to fill school counselor positions.
“It’s a specialized credential, it’s more training, more education and they cost a lot,” Director of Social, Emotional and Mental Wellbeing for Bend La Pine School District, Jennifer Hauth said.
Hauth added that staff members are already interested in the OSU Cascades program with the new grant money.
The deadline to apply to the program has been extended to May 25 due to the grant.