Counseling psychology chair awarded $2.66 million from U.S. Department of Education for school counselor training

Dr. Alan Burkard, chair and professor of counseling psychology in the College of Education, has been awarded a $2.66 million Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant by the U.S. Department of Education to expedite the training of diverse school counselors to help address the need for mental health care among K-12 students in high-need schools.

School counselor trainees will be prepared by the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology at Marquette through traditional graduate education and a relatively new accelerated program, which specifically allows students to begin taking graduate classes as undergraduates and allows them to complete their graduate studies within one year of completing their undergraduate degree.

“The Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology has a long history of preparing school counselors who eventually take positions in local and regional schools,” Burkard said. “This accelerated program will eliminate a barrier facing many diverse students, which is the high cost of post-baccalaureate education. This award will allow us to recruit students and financially support their progress with tuition support at the graduate level.”

In addition to increasing the pipeline of diverse school counselors, the department will address three other objectives, including an expanded collaboration with the American School Counselor Association. This would allow the current curriculum, which prepares trainees to deliver the ASCA National Model of School Counseling, to be expanded to include the ASCA’s Specialist Training Program. The Specialist Training Program teaches skills in culturally inclusive and sustaining school counseling practices, closing achievement gaps, and trauma-informed practices. This additional training will provide trainees with the skills to develop data-driven programs and services that are trauma-informed and culturally relevant.

The Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology will also collaborate with school districts and high-need schools on practicum and internship placements and support for trainees in seeking employment opportunities in high-need schools. These collaborations with school districts in Racine, Kenosha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Sheboygan will create 600-hour internship training experiences in high-need schools.

“Through this award, Dr. Burkard and his department have a great opportunity to expand and diversify the school counselor workforce, while preparing their graduates to meet the mental health needs of K-12 students,” said Dr. Heidi Bostic, dean of the College of Education and Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “Through an expanded and better-trained school counselor workforce, these school districts and other high-need schools will be able to support their students in a more comprehensive model that reflects Marquette’s mission of cura personalis, or care for the whole person.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program provides competitive grants to support and demonstrate innovative partnerships to train school-based mental health service providers for employment in schools and local educational agencies.