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Students to get help for life after high school

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

The Denton school district’s counseling department is initiating a program in its secondary schools to better assist students and their parents in preparing for life after high school.

Amy Lawrence, Denton’s counseling director, said that during the 2012-13school year at the four high schools, the district will be using Naviance — a one-stop shop college and career readiness online platform that allows students to set goals and track their progress.

Through the program, district officials said students and their parents can also research college admissions requirements, salary patterns and career growth potential, and students can also directly apply to colleges.

“It is a roadmap to success,” Lawrence told board members at a recent board meeting. “We want to streamline the process for our parents [and students] and Naviance allows us to do that in a more-organized format.”

Lawrence said the current format used by the district is cumbersome and students and parents have to access several websites for information. Naviance allows families to access a vast array of information in a single place.

District officials say they intend to phase in the program over three years with long-term goals to one day implement the program at the middle school level.

Several months ago, the district created a steering committee with Naviance officials to get the program going.

Denton’s top counselors also received training on the program at the recent Naviance Summer Institute and have observed the program being piloted in nearby districts such Allen.

Start-up costs for the program total $21,790, according to district documents. Expenses for the program are projected to total $31,680 annually, district documents indicate.

Sharon Cox, district spokeswoman, said annual funding for the program will be divided, with the district’s high schools contributing a projected $6,000 total, the counseling department putting in $14,000 and a Perkins Grant providing more than $11,000.

Throughout the 2012-13 school year, personnel will receive training and students and parents will be introduced to the program.

For the program to succeed, teachers, parents and students must buy into it, Lawrence said.

School board President Mia Price said the program is “hugely important.” She said it gives parents the flexibility to be involved on their own schedule rather than taking time off work to meet with school counselors and it frees up counselors to work with students in other areas.

“I think it will give the parents and students the opportunity to be more interactive in planning [students’] curriculum choices and their future after Denton ISD,” Price said.

Other features of the program will allow students to create resumes and college essays, request school transcripts and letters of recommendation from counselors, take career assessments and an inventory of strengths and weaknesses so they can determine what college or career best fits them.

Lawrence said the program will allow students to make an informed decision about their future, post-high school.

“This is something that will help them figure out what it is they want to do and what it is they don’t want to do,” she said,

In addition, school officials recently announced they will be revamping the district’s homepage and campus websites this fall, the first software update since 2005.

Carolyn Thomson, the district’s webmaster, said that “while visitors to the website will still find the same basic functionality as before, they will also discover some new features including a current date display, featured video, a link to our Facebook page and a language translator.”

Teachers and staff, she said, will find the upgrade makes tasks easier and could enhance teacher Web pages.

Website visitors can expect a new look to the district’s homepage the week of Sept. 7, and campus homepage changes throughout the week of Oct. 29, Thomson said.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is .