Associate Professor of Counseling Sarah Patterson-Mills recently hosted the Illinois School Counselor Association’s first online professional development training for members of the Illinois Principals Association.
According to Patterson-Mills, the purpose of the training was to help raise awareness about the unique role that Illinois school counselors play in school systems, conveying how to use data-informed, intentional decisions regarding interventions and apply findings toward continuous program improvement and allocation of future resources.
“We’re beginning to deliver training to educators with expected outcomes of supporting all students' academic success through increasing attendance and reducing behavioral infractions so all students are college and career ready when they leave the K-12 system,” said Patterson-Mills. “The comprehensive counseling program in each school follows our national American School Counseling Association Model but is customized by state and region, as needs are diverse.”
Patterson-Mills played a key role in crafting legislation that finally put an end to a two-year school funding crisis in the State of Illinois. Last August, the State General Assembly passed a bill that reformulated the way Illinois schools from kindergarten through high school were funded. The proposed new formula requires higher thresholds of staffing of guidance counselors, a recommendation based on a white paper largely written by Patterson-Mills.
Three Lindenwood University-Belleville students in the School Counseling Program contributed information to the training that the group delivered. Joelle Macke, Trenton, Ill.; Michael Turner, Belleville, Ill.; and Traci Gardner, Fairview Heights, Ill., contributed original evidence based approaches to the metric section along with a few schools in the Chicago Public School System, including the Marine Leadership Academy and the Phoenix Military Academy. Data was also submitted by the Lawndale Elementary Community Academy.
“We are very excited about the growth of the school counseling profession across Illinois,” said Patterson-Mills. “I’m thrilled our students are actively contributing to the progress in this field and practice with their work.”