To help support mental health education and support students and their families, Scott County School District 2 added two social work positions at Scottsburg High School and Scottsburg Middle School. The initial funding for the social work positions comes from grant funding left behind after COVID-19 shut down schools and life during the spring of 2020.
The high school added Billy Snowden, a lifelong resident of Scott County who previously worked in human resources in the private sector, in special education, and for a state agency before earning his Master of Social Work degree.
“The school is a wonderful place to practice social work. Everyone at all levels are wonderful to work with. The students are also amazing! My social work passion stems from past community work growing up in Scott County,” Snowden said. “Joining the team at Scottsburg has allowed me to be a team player as we strive to help others with their goals.”
The need for a social worker stems from the comprehensive counseling grant the school district received from the Lilly Endowment.
“One of the goals of the grant is to increase mental health education and support for SCSD2 students. Our first objective was to pull in community mental health partners to help support students at school. Our dream was to have a therapist from a community mental health organization come to schools to see students,” said Shannon Mount, Director of School Counseling and Social Work for Scott County School District 2.
However, the goals changed when COVID-19 shut down life and schools in March 2020.
“Then, last year, COVID messed with everything related to that goal. Our community mental health partners were in crisis mode helping people through the pandemic. So we started thinking again more creatively about how we could achieve our goal of having mental health education and support for our students. One of the hidden blessings of COVID is that we didn’t spend the grant money that we thought we would last year when we shut down the school in the Spring of 2020,” Mount said.
Just as COVID-19 changed the world and required people to adjust their lives, the counseling team at Scott 2 made an adjustment and asked the Lilly Endowment to use the grant money saved from the shut down toward hiring social workers for SHS and SMS.
“[The Lilly Endowment] said yes. Then, around this same time, the Scott County Partnership (another of our main community partners) was awarded a mental health education grant. They asked us if we could use our social worker to cover the activities in their grant. So with that agreement, we had a little more grant money to support the new position. We call this grant money ‘seed money’ to get the position started,” Mount said.
After the grant funding becomes depleted, Mount said the district has committed itself to make mental health a priority.
“But after the ‘seed money’ dries up, it is up to our board to continue to fund the positions and they have said that student mental health is a priority so we are all assuming that Mr. Snowden is here to stay. We welcome him as part of the SHS Counseling Team,” Mount said.