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Harlan Elementary Counseling Program named 2023 Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction

Counselor Amanda Green

FLORENCE, Ala. – The Alabama School Counselor Association recently named Harlan Elementary School's counseling program the 2023 Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction; this recognizes school counseling programs that demonstrate an exemplary level of implementation of a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program.

Harlan Elementary School Counselor Amanda Green knows exactly what this award means, not only to her but also to the students.

"It's a professional goal for school counselors, but comprehensive school counseling program research shows that it is better for the kids, too," Green said. "It helps me feel more confident that I can provide the best services possible to the kids here at Harlan."

It took Green over a year to complete the fifteen-part application process. The application included an action plan, where you give a goal for the year you will accomplish, how much time you spent in direct or indirect service with kids, and the document of your entire annual calendar. 

"When you create goals for your school counseling program, you ... want to be direct with the kids," Green said. "You're probably having more group counseling and more individual counseling, and you're making sure that the curriculum that you're teaching is lined up with the state standards and that it's helping to meet the needs in the classroom as well."

Green said her goal was to decrease out-of-school suspensions (OSS) for Harlan's 3rd graders following the previous year's discipline data; she added that 3rd grade was the grade targeted in the action plan. 

"I provided Tiered 1, 2, and 3-level support services to our 3rd graders by doing classroom guidance lessons and small group on emotional self-regulation with the 3rd graders who had the most OSS, as well as individual counseling as needed," Green said. "After supportive school counseling services, there was a 63-percent change in out-of-school suspensions within this group. Overall, 3rd grade had the second-lowest office referrals for the whole school year. I recognize that was maturity and connections built with 3rd-grade teachers and other Harlan staff, too."

Green is incredibly excited to have been given this distinction and is ready to continue to watch the program grow.

"I think I'll be more intentional in providing specified services for kids and setting more intentional goals each year and looking at the data to see if the needs of the students at Harlan are being met each year," Green said. "It's exciting to know when you are a part of a winning team; it feels good to be a part of a school that is award-winning."

Since Harlan has earned the distinction at the state level, the school can now strive for a similar distinction at the national level.

By Caroline Conkle & Jeremy Jackson