Three Angelo State University graduate students who are intern school counselors in the Brownwood Independent School District earned Counselors Reinforcing Excellence for Students in Texas (CREST) Awards for their respective schools at the Texas School Counselor Association’s (TSCA) recent Professional School Counselor Conference in Round Rock.
ASU graduate students Angie Bertrand, Marci Reagan and LeeAnn Stork, all from Brownwood, are members of the Brownwood ISD Counseling and Mental Health Team that earned the CREST Awards from TSCA. Bertrand is an intern school counselor at Brownwood Middle School, Reagan interns at Woodland Heights Elementary and East Elementary, and Stork interns at Northwest Elementary and Coggin Intermediate.
The CREST Awards recognize schools with outstanding counseling programs, and that have demonstrated a commitment to using the Texas Model to improve the lives and achievements of students in academic, career and personal social domains.
The three ASU students were hired as BISD interns through the “Rural West Texas Mental Health Educational Learning Partnership” (HELP), a grant-funded collaborative effort between ASU and Texas Education Service Center (ESC) Region 15 to increase the number of public-school counselors employed in rural school districts within Region 15. All three are also enrolled in ASU’s Master of Science in professional school counseling degree program that is directed by Dr. Lesley Casarez, associate professor of curriculum and instruction.
“This is the first time that we have had any current school counseling students win the CREST Award, and also the first time that any schools in Region 15 have won,” Casarez said. “It is incredibly exciting to have not just one, but all three of our Brownwood interns win this year! As candidates in the first cohort of our HELP grant project, this shows what an impact the grant and our program are having not only on our candidates, but also the districts they serve.”
The CREST Awards program evaluates school counseling programs in five categories:
- Introduction to the school and the role of the school counselor
- Program implementation cycle
- Foundational components
- Service delivery components
- Program curriculum
School district counseling teams prepare a digital submission that highlights these areas and communicates just what their counseling program is doing to help students succeed. The submissions are sent to reviewers throughout Texas to be judged according to pre-set standards of excellence.
The ASU-ESC Region 15 HELP initiative is funded by a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and is also designed to increase the training and professional development opportunities for school counselors and other mental health professionals already employed in Region 15. There is also a special focus on rural West Texas areas that lack access to mental health services and personnel.