By Marcy Stamper
Students in the Methow Valley School District will be able to research thousands of careers — and where to get the skills and education for them. They’ll have additional opportunities to work with mentors from the community. And students, staff and families will all benefit from a program that helps educators support students coping with the impact of adverse childhood experiences.
The school district received $11,000 in grants in May from the Community Foundation of North Central Washington to support those three programs. The district got $4,000 to purchase Naviance software, which will expose students to some 7,500 careers worldwide, plus 3,500 colleges and technical schools where they can obtain the skills for those jobs.
Naviance also includes assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs personality test, that are intended to match people with work that suits their temperament and interests, said Erika Spellman, college adviser for the school district.
One of the first uses for Naviance will be to allow students to request that transcripts and letters of recommendation be sent electronically with college applications. More and more schools are requiring electronic submissions, but the technology to do that is still uncommon in eastern Washington, said Spellman.
Students using the software can watch thousands of video interviews with people about their jobs — from neurologist to yoga teacher to bar owner — and why they like them, said Spellman.
Another $4,000 grant will support expansion of the mentorship program at the Independent Learning Center.
Mentorship coordinator Kelleigh McMillan connects students with mentors from the community so they can learn from their expertise, said Methow Valley School District Superintendent Tom Venable. Students also develop ongoing relationships with their mentors, building academic, personal and logistical support for life after graduation.
Connections with a mentor can help students — particularly those who may be the first in their family to attend college or other post-high school institutions — make the initial adjustment, said Venable.
The grant will allow the district to increase McMillan’s time to recruit, train and support mentors, which has been about 20 hours a week this past year, said Venable.
The third grant, for $3,000, is for staff training and community programs associated with becoming “a trauma-informed school district.”
The district’s student and family support team has already done several workshops for staff to help them understand and support children who have had adverse childhood experiences, said Liberty Bell High School Principal Deborah DeKalb. Children who have experienced trauma often have a flight, fight or freeze response, which can interfere with teaching and learning, she said.
In a trauma-informed school, adults are prepared to recognize and respond to students affected by stress and trauma, according to the Treatment and Services Adaptation Center, which focuses on school trauma and crisis response.
Traumatic stress can come from many sources, including bullying, divorce or homelessness, and natural disasters or dramatic weather. It can affect both children and adults, according to the center.
The grant will help teachers and other staff understand the various manifestations of adverse childhood experiences, and how they affect students’ health and well-being, said Venable.