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Help coming for troubled Glendale students

High and middle schools will get counseling from social-work interns.

September 20, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

More than 20 graduate students who study social work at Cal State L.A. and USC are helping district staff counsel students at Glendale’s middle and high schools.

Last year, three USC social work graduate students met with Glendale High students dealing with behavioral, emotional or academic challenges.

Based on the success of that pilot program, Glendale officials sought to expand it as a cost-effective way to provide students with more people to help with their daily obstacles.

Starting last week and continuing through April, 22 interns will work at the schools twice each week, joining about 25 full-time counselors and psychologists at the eight secondary schools.

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Each will put in about 500 hours, or a total of about 11,000 hours.

“That’s how many extra hours of ears we’ll have helping us with our students in crises,” said Scott Anderle, assistant director of student support services for Glendale Unified.

“Obviously, we have a lot of need with our current educational climate. There just seems to be a lot of students who need somebody to talk to,” he said.

Nine student interns from the school of social work at Cal State L.A. will work at Toll, Wilson, Rosemont and Roosevelt middle schools.

Thirteen more interns from USC will assist the counseling staff at Glendale, Hoover, Clark Magnet and Crescenta Valley high schools.

Tammy Taylor, a Glendale high psychologist who worked with three USC interns last year, was pleased the district expanded the service to all secondary schools.

“I was really glad that the experience at Glendale High worked out so well and the district was able to determine this would be beneficial at more schools,” she said. “I’m really glad they saw this as a need.”

The program was instituted last year with a push from current school board President Nayiri Nahabedian, who is also a professor in the social-work department at Cal State L.A.

For years, she said, she saw other Los Angeles-area school districts use social-work interns on school campuses and she wanted the same for Glendale Unified.

“You really have a cost-effective way of providing solid services to our students so they can be best prepared,” said Nahabedian. “It is gratifying to see us realizing these resources.”

Glendale Unified agreed to pay $57,000 for the service, an amount divided between two field supervisors from Cal State L.A. and USC who will oversee the student interns.

Also supervising the interns at the eight schools is Glendale Unified psychologist Ilin Magran.

After working in the field of school psychology for the past 13 years, Magran said schools often serve kids who are in crisis, as others who report falling grades and dropping attendance can fall through the cracks, she said.

At Glendale High, Taylor said she hopes the new round of interns will help the students set goals and see them through while they develop positive coping strategies to manage life’s obstacles.

“Our goal is not to keep them in counseling forever,” she said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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