Whale Branch Middle School student counseling program earns national recognition

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Whale Branch Middle School has received national honors for its student counseling program.

The school is one of four South Carolina schools — and one of only 72 nationwide — to receive a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation during recent ceremonies at the American School Counselor Association’s annual conference in Orlando.

The RAMP designation, awarded to schools that align with the criteria set in the ASCA National Model, recognizes schools that are committed to delivering “a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment.”

“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA’s assistant director and RAMP coordinator. “This designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to continue to strive for success.”

In applying for the award, Whale Branch Middle School put together an advisory council consisting of two teachers, two parents, two community members and Jim Bergin, a professor and counselor education expert at Georgia Southern University.

“We looked at the needs of our students and compared them against national school counseling standards,” said Principal Matt Hunt.  “Then counselor Rebecca Burkhart developed and coordinated a comprehensive counseling program around the needs we identified in our students.  While it’s great to be recognized with this award, what we were really focused on is improving the services we provide to our kids.”

RAMP applications are reviewed by a panel of school counseling professionals who assess school counseling programs in 12 different areas of program expertise.