Rolla Public Schools Board of Education was recognized during School Board Recognition Week, sponsored by the Missouri School Boards' Association, to increase awareness and understanding of the crucial function an elected board of education plays in the success and advancement of public schools.

“We’d like to take this opportunity at the meeting tonight to recognize the work the board of education does, and I think it’s the highest calling of community service, when you dedicate your time and your efforts without pay to the children of the school district,” Rolla Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Zalis, said of board service.

Zalis presented each board member with certificates from the Missouri School Boards’ Association at the Feb. 7 board of education meeting.  The board proceeded to recognize the district’s guidance counselors for National School Counseling Week to bring awareness to the contribution of school counselors within the school system.

National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, brings light to the immense impact school counselors have in helping students achieve school success and plan for their careers. National School Counseling Week is celebrated the first full week in February.

After the board’s recognition, each guidance counselor provided Rolla Public Schools Board of Education with an update on each of their program improvement plans that are aligned with the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program to enhance student achievement, graduation rates, mental health and the overall culture of the school environment.

The district's guidance counselors stated that they spent a majority of their time in responsive services, with the rise in responsive services directly related to mental health at Rolla High School.

“There has been a large increase that we’ve seen over the past several years in mental health needs for students,” Rolla High School guidance counselor, Sarah Kaelin, said.

Highlights from the district’s guidance and counseling programs included the school district taking steps to address mental health through Pathways School-Based Counseling, while Mark Twain Elementary is moving towards creating whole group classroom curriculum to incorporate theme-based learning centers such as empathy centers, feeling centers, friendship centers, kindness centers, mindfulness centers, self-esteem centers and stress management centers.

The guidance and counseling program at Rolla Junior High recently incorporated a section on careers for the school’s eighth graders, who are now able to work on academic planning and career exploration.

Rolla High School’s guidance and counseling program aided in Rolla High School hosting its first regional career fair in 2018, which had six schools from the region in attendance along with 85 college representatives’ the highest the school has had, Kaelin noted.

Rolla High School guidance counselor, Rodger Bridgeman, started a new program at the high school called, Bulldog Closet, that has been utilized significantly. 

“We’ve put a lot of coats on backs this year, and socks and shoes on kids this year. It’s way more than educating our children at this point; it’s also helping to take care of them and keep them connected, and letting them know they are an important part of society and they are important to us,” Bridgeman said.