Hoping to cultivate student wellness, school district officials recommended at Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting that the district reintroduce a peer counseling elective for the upcoming academic year.
“The goal here is to have a class which, in essence, trains schools in peer counseling skills for about three quarters and the last quarter [students will] begin to work with students,” said Jim Cartnal, the La Cañada Unified School District’s executive director of pupil and personnel programs and services.
Peer Support 1, if approved at the next Governing Board meeting Aug. 7, will replace the previously offered Bridge peer mentoring course.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the course would address “a pivotal need in our schools.”
The course would be taught through role play and modeling activities, as well as a video component and other supplementary materials. To be able to participate, students would have to apply and have an interview with course instructors.
Board President Kaitzer Puglia asked whether the board might review some of the interview questions as well as some of the materials students would be working with. She also asked that the course stress the importance of confidentiality.
The course is intended to serve as the foundation of a peer support program that will provide training experiences and supervision for students interested in counseling-related careers. The program will be aligned with standards of the California Career Technical Educational Health Science and Medical Technological pathway, which Puglia said she appreciated.
“We’re really looking to fire up our campus,” Cartnal said. “We’re hoping for a multiplier effect over time, so by the time they’re seniors, when perhaps this class doesn’t work into their schedule, they’re still trained and able to help and to do so in a campus-wide effort that just gets more and more folks involved.”
The district’s current projected enrollment stands at 4,098, Sinnette said. That’s slightly down from last year’s total of 4,126, which the superintendent said she expects to be equaled with a second wave of permit acceptances in the coming month.
“The beauty of permits is that it allows us to sort of maximize our enrollment without having to potentially increase any of our full-time equivalencies or hirings,” said Sinnette, noting that the district received 272 permit applications, 175 of which have been accepted so far.
That includes, she said, 24 students belonging to district families, 44 who are siblings of an already permitted student and 66 who are Sagebrush residents, with the others being permitted via the Allen Bill, which pertains to students whose parents work in the city.
Sinnette said 307 new residents have enrolled as well.
Rising senior Andrew Kwon was introduced as the board’s student representative for the coming school year. Kwon is a decorated member of the speech and debate team. He also previously participated in the national sophomore leadership seminar held at Cal Poly Pomona.