COEHD representatives
From left are Jerry Juhnke (COEHD professor), Betty Merchant
(COEHD dean) and Ron Thomas (COEHD director of school

UTSA receives Communities in Schools Award

By Ashley Harris
Public Affairs Specialist

(June 17, 2008)--The UTSA College of Education and Human Development's School Partnerships program and the counseling and educational psychology department recently received two "Agency Partner of the Year" awards from Communities in Schools of San Antonio (CIS-SA). The awards, CIS-SA's highest honor, were given to the School Partnerships program and the counseling department in recognition of services provided to the city's most at-risk children.

During the Spring 2008 semester, UTSA's School Partnerships program provided 72 undergraduate volunteers and the counseling department provided more than 30 graduate student volunteers to assist elementary, middle and high school students in the Edgewood Independent School District. Working with CIS-SA case managers, the undergraduate volunteers tutored and mentored the Edgewood students while graduate students provided counseling services.

"UTSA's involvement with Communities In Schools has been a true partnership," said Marcheta Evans, associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Adult and Higher Education. "It allows UTSA to reach out into the community and provide much needed services for children, and at the same time it allows our students to gain invaluable experience in their training as counselors -- experience that they will one day take out into the community to help others."

Counseling sessions provided to Edgewood students are on topics including honesty and integrity, getting along with each other, bullying, appropriate methods of interacting and mediating, and the importance of education. In addition to the services provided to students, UTSA faculty members attend CIS-SA professional development meetings and counsel case managers on how to deal with cutting, substance abuse and other adolescent behaviors.

"Our plans are to expand this outreach program next year to involve 150 undergraduate students in these programs and service additional school districts where CIS-SA programs are in place," said Ron Thomas, director of school partnerships for COEHD.

Communities in Schools is the nation's leading community-based dropout prevention network. CIS helps students stay in school and make the right choices by connecting schools with community resources such as mentors, tutors, mental health counseling, after-school care, and drug and alcohol education.

"UTSA has been involved in CIS for more than a decade," said Evans. "It's a wonderful organization whose activities support the counseling department's mission of providing students with culturally diverse opportunities as they gain counseling competency. We look forward to working with them for years to come."

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