Adams State partners with BOCES to improve school counseling services


Adams State University's Master's in Counselor Education program is a key partner in a Colorado Dept. of Education School Counselor Corps grant awarded to the SLV Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Students in eight San Luis Valley school districts will benefit from the three-year grant, totaling $344,621. Preparation for college or the workforce is the main focus of the program, according to Kathy Mortensen, BOCES assistant exceptional student services director.

The grant will expand effective school counseling services by creating a master's-level counseling internship program in conjunction with Adam State. This comprehensive internship program will be led by a full-time licensed counselor and a regional Advisory Council. The participating school districts include Del Norte, Moffat, Monte Vista, Sangre de Cristo, Sanford, Sierra Grande, Creede, and Centennial.

"Our many rural schools are challenged with highly restrictive budgets and minimal staffing," explained Adams State President David Svaldi. "The new ASU paid internship program, counseling infrastructure, and trainings will help improve students' college and workforce readiness by increasing staff and other much-needed counseling resources in the schools."

The grant project aims to:

  • improve the counselor-student ratio in the schools (currently 1:246)
  • improve post-secondary student enrollment and ACT scores
  • increase advanced placement and concurrent credit offerings
  • increase the number of graduating students who complete financial aid and scholarship applications for college
  • decrease high school drop-out rate

"We know our long-standing partnerships with Adams State and local districts will make a positive impact for the eight participating school districts," Mortensen said. "Our mostly rural schools are having difficulty retaining licensed counselors. It is hoped that as interns provide support and learn about educational counseling roles, some of these vacancies can be filled."

Dr. Susan Varhely, professor and chair of Adams State's Counselor Education program, said, "It is definitely a win-win situation for our masters students and for the public school students that they will work with. Partnering with BOCES and the SLV school counselors brings to mind the phrase 'it takes a community to raise a child.' The youth within the Valley have many opportunities, but also many challenges. I see this grant as offering them the potential for positive futures.

The grant was prepared by BOCES, school counselors, and Varhely, as well as Adams State Grant Specialist Tawney Becker and Asst.t VP for Enrollment Management Eric Carpio.

Adams State Master's in Counselor Education

By Julie Waechter