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Counseling following Hurricane Harvey helps local school win prestigious award

Out of all of the individual schools in the State of Texas, not entire school districts, a school in the Coastal Bend is among only 142 to win a Counselors Reinforcing Excellence for Students in Texas, or CREST, Award.

“It recognizes they did above and beyond what’s typically expected of school counselors,” Rockport Middle School Principal Michael Hannum said.

Rockport Fulton Middle has two school counselors. Gail Roaten and Patricia Frost have had their eyes on this prize for awhile now.

“When we first started working together three years ago, it was our goal to get this award,” Frost said. “It recognizes outstanding programs in Texas.”

Their work with the school’s more than 600 students in the weeks and months following Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Rockport in August 2017 paved the way to the Texas School Counseling Association awarding the campus with a CREST Award.

“We started seeing lots of kids with some social emotional issues, coping skills, depression,” Roaten said. We had a lot of kids and families that were stressed out, living in RV’s, small trailers. We even had some families in tents, and so it was a lot of stress on the families and the kids.”

Through professional connections, Roaten and Frost were able to enlist the help of two university systems to provide counseling to Rockport Fulton Middle School’s students. Texas A&M Corpus Christi students came to town to serve as counseling interns. A teleconferencing room was established at the middle school so students could see and talk to a psychiatrist and licensed mental health therapists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

“We’re at the point now where they’re recovering, but they’re not recovering where they were before,” Frost said. “It’s setting in that this is it. This is the new normal.”

Even after winning the award, Frost and Roaten say their work is far from over.

“They experienced a trauma, so the trauma will always be there,” Frost said. “We’re giving them coping skills to be able to handle it.”

Seth Kovar

Seth Kovar

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