One of the most-troubling aspects of the pandemic is how being away from friends and studies may have affected students’ emotional well-being.

But help has arrived through a $25,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to help fund counseling and mental-health efforts at Vine Hill School, Brook Knoll School and Scotts Valley Middle School.

“Kaiser Permanente is extremely proud to support the Scotts Valley Unified School District’s commitment to providing on campus and virtual counseling services for their students,” said Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente San Jose and Santa Cruz County. “Mental health support is a critical part of overall health and wellness for all members of our community, and especially our youth.”

How it came to be

The initial grant request was written by volunteer grant writers from the Scotts Valley Educational Foundation (SVEF) Nicole Mace, Jenny Wood and Michelle Stewart, assistant superintendent of education services for the Scotts Valley School District.

The grant outlines a strategic plan help the 500 students at each school with social-emotional support, as well as targeting high-risk students for individual interventions.

“Most teachers, students and parents say that counselors are invaluable to our programs,” said Stewart, adding that this is the fourth year Kaiser has chipped in, but with a twist. “Kaiser had been supporting our physical needs in previous years, so this was really surprise gift for us.”

How the grant will be spent

Each of the the schools has a dedicated counselor for the students. Ryan Navaroli works with Brook Knoll students, while MacKenzie Keller counsels students at Vine Hill School. The grant money will be used to directly help fund those positions.

“Kaiser has always been very supportive of our community and schools,” said Robert Aldana, SVEF president. “Mental health is at the top of our list. A lot has been taken away from these students. Kaiser stepped up big-time.”

The SVEF is a non-profit, all volunteer organization whose mission is to raise funds for direct donation and support efforts that positively impact the educational experience of all students in the Scotts Valley Unified School District.

David Leland
David is a local resident, a writer, MSV Columnist and a heck of a nice guy who cares about our commUNITY