Teacher on Billings' South Side receives grant to bulk up resources for counselors

2014-01-04T00:00:00Z 2014-01-05T09:21:04Z Teacher on Billings' South Side receives grant to bulk up resources for counselorsBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Teacher help in the form of counseling resources for Billings Public Schools just got a stiff shot in the arm from Orange Julius.

Karen Severeide, a teacher and school counselor at Newman Elementary, was one of 10 educators nationwide to receive a $1,490 grant from the company that owns Orange Julius and Dairy Queen.

The award, part of the Orange Julius Treats for Teachers essay contest, will go toward building up a school counseling resource library for School District 2.

Dairy Queen visited Newman in December to present the award and to hand out Dilly Bars to the entire school. Severeide began working on her library over winter break.

“It’s amazing how much money that is when you start ordering books,” she said.

The contest was launched in August when Orange Julius began a new $1.49 drink ad campaign. The company received more than 1,500 entries from educators. The essays were required to be only 149 words long.

“In her essay, Severeide outlines her idea to establish a districtwide shared resource library for school counselors, specifically designed to unify the academic, social and emotional education of kindergarteners,” said spokeswoman Lauren Simo in a statement.

School District 2 has had accreditation troubles with the state Office of Public Instruction over the last few years, some of it brought on by having too few librarians and counselors in its schools.

Over the last two years, the district has been able to hire more librarians and counselors but there’s still a dearth of materials.

“We don’t have the money in counseling,” Severeide said.

So the grant will go a long way toward getting counselors the resources they need to better help the students in their charge.

Already, Severeide has sent requests out across the district asking teachers and counselors what books and other materials they’d like to have. Once the library is built up, Severeide will use SD2’s mail system to send out books to teachers or counselors as they request them.

The materials fall into two general categories — those designed to help individual students and those meant to be used in the classroom.

Children respond so well to books, Severeide said.

“When I visit a class, whether it is kindergarten or sixth grade, I do not have any problem holding the attention and wonder of children when I read to them,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a book that makes them giggle ... or makes them think and open some new avenues for dialogue; everyone loves to have someone read them a book.”

Severeide is acutely aware of the needs within the district. Some of SD2’s most fraught students attend her school.

“A lot of kiddos don’t come to school even with simple table manners,” she said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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