Archived Story

AHS counselor: Collaboration must be the answer

Published 5:00am Monday, April 1, 2013

By Thor Bergland

Austin High School counselor

Collaboration. In today’s times, the need to work together as a community is critical. With lack of funding and traditional mindsets we will never gain the correct amount of resources to address the needs of our community. Mental health, chemical health, wellness, integration and academics are always at the forefront of most conversations we hold at Austin High School and Austin Public Schools.

Do we have enough resources to take it all on? No. But what we do have is a nice, complementary blend of student support professionals throughout our district. From early childhood all the way through a student’s senior year, there is a member of our district’s student support professional group available along the way. We consist of school psychologists, school social workers, grade level counselors, chemical health specialists, truancy officers and mental health practitioners. We are a group totaling 29 professionals and a student body of 4,000 students. This is exactly why we collaborate with Mower County and Austin’s resources; there just isn’t enough support for all.

Our students here at Austin High School have also accepted the responsibility of helping with these causes. Our latest group Give/Take 5 has paired in partnership with Mower Refreshed to help spread wellness within the schools. G/T 5 also started a group where students have been able to come and talk about their life experiences with their peers called SAFE (Students Advocating for Friendly Environments). They will address the whole ninth-grade student body on April 19, relaying information relating to being well and what that looks like. Through collaborative partnership with Mower Refreshed and Community Against Bullying, G/T 5 will be able to compile feedback from more than 300 students on topics of bullying, friendships, values and family. We will then begin to devise tools for families, teachers and other community resources to disperse. SAFE will be holding more meetings graciously hosted by Gymocha in the near future, and will be inviting students from the out-county schools like Grand Meadow, Southland and Leroy so they may understand how SAFE works. Hopefully they will want to start chapters for their own student body as well.

Grassroots groups like Community Against Bullying, Austin Area Drug Task Force, Mower Refreshed have joined together to take on the needs of our community, our students, our families. We are infiltrating the need in our community but we need so many more resources to join in our quest for wellness, for humanity. Being in our silos, being overburdened with business is no longer working. Our needs are not being met and we must keep adapting. In these busy times we must remind and give ourselves permission to go back to basics. Basic human needs are not being met. Simple good morning greetings, smiles, waves, and neighborly values build protective factors for our innocent struggling with so much indifference. This seems so simple; humanity. In our humility we are all equal. Collaboration has to be the answer in today’s time.

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