The life-transforming effects that a strong educator can have on a child’s life are insurmountable, but it’s not solely the effort that’s taking place in our classrooms that’s making a difference for our students. As students are exploring and defining their independence, IPS student support staff members are working to ensure they’re prepared to be fully functioning and successful members of society upon graduation. They say it takes a village – of course parents and teachers play a major role in student development, but due credit should be given to the support staff that impacts student success on a daily basis.
Rose Stephens, Counselor for the alternative education programs at McFarland, has served our students for 15 years – her strong dedication serves as a testament of our commitment to excellence.
The Graduation Academy features multiple programs, the first of which focuses on high school students who are in need of a non-traditional schedule due to work or family needs. The Academy also offers targeted supports to students who have fallen behind their peer group academically, offering two years of curriculum at an accelerated rate to help students get back on track.
Aside from providing emotional support in light of the concerning obstacles some students may face such as abuse, neglect and bullying, school counselors also enhance the development of young minds and promote academic achievement. Stephens serves a unique set of students; differing from a traditional school setting, students join Graduation Academy with varying academic achievement levels throughout the year – each requiring a distinct level of support. 
“My days change throughout the week depending on the time of the year,” said Stephens, “on a daily basis I’m posting grades and changing schedules – we’ve accepted applications [from students throughout the district] every month this year.”
Students gain optimal personal growth, social skills and realize their full academic potential through the guidance provided by school counselors. “The success I have is based on a team effort,” said Stephens. “Our administrative assistant may be working on attendance, while I’m communicating with the high schools throughout the district, sharing my reports with principals on the status of a student application or coordinating student testing such as the accuplacer or ECA. Seeing a student that struggles semester after semester – feeling like they will never graduate – finally realize, ‘hey I’m going to make it’ is the most rewarding part of my position.”

It takes a full team effort to ensure the success of our students day after day; we appreciate the commitment displayed by our counselors and support staff throughout Indianapolis Public Schools. Thank you!