Counseling Department to implement wellness program at Dillon Middle School

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Wellness Grant
Shenika Jones, assistant professor, (left) Alanda Green, personnel manager at Walmart of Dillon, and Jonathan Ricks, assistant professor.

A new collaborative effort among the Department of Counseling at UNC Pembroke and Perdue Farms will provide social and emotional learning opportunities for students at Dillon Middle School.

This project aligns with the commitment of the newly established College of Health Sciences to create wellness in our region.

Jonathan Ricks and Shenika Jones, assistant professors of Professional School Counseling, were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, Inc. They also received a $400 grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The grants will assist in the implementation of the Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives curriculum developed by the C. E. Mendez Foundation.

Approximately 740 Dillon Middle School students will participate in 10 weeks of enrichment lessons on conflict resolution, goal setting, identifying emotions, effective communication, and respecting self and others.

Funds from the foundation grants will enable graduate students in the UNCP Counseling Program to deliver the curriculum to students weekly.

“We are appreciative of Perdue Farms and Walmart for making this learning experience possible for our students at UNCP and for the students at Dillon Middle School,” Ricks said.

“Research shows us that when students develop social and emotional skills, they are more likely to be successful in other areas of their lives.”

The goal of the program is to increase social skills development, leading to a safer school and community. 

“Dillon is my hometown and holds a special place in my heart. This opportunity to connect counselors-in-training with the youth in my community is exciting. We look forward to this promising partnership between UNCP and Dillon School District Four,” remarked Shenika Jones, School Counseling Program Director.

Middle school students will practice identifying and managing bullying situations as well as building bonds and relationships.

“We are truly excited to become an educational partner with the Department of Counseling at UNCP as well as the opportunities that it will provide our students,” said Rodney Cook, principal of Dillon Middle School.

“We believe helping our students build strong social skills is critical in influencing their academic performance, behavior, social and family relationships, and involvement in extracurricular activities. We admire these graduate students and their professors at UNCP for allowing Dillon Middle School to be a part of their project and appreciate all the time and hard work they are dedicating to prepare our students to be successful in life.”

“At Perdue we are proud to invest in programs that strengthen the communities where our associates live and work,” said Randy Brown, Director of Perdue operations in Dillon. 

“We can think of nothing better for a community like Dillon than an effort such as this that really helps children develop their personal confidence and respect for those that surround them.”

“The mission of the Walmart Foundation is to meet the needs of the under-served by directing charitable giving toward its core areas of focus: Opportunity, Sustainability, and Community. We consider it our responsibility to make a positive impact in the communities we serve,” reports Alanda Green, Personnel Manager at Walmart of Dillon.

Ray Rogers, Superintendent of Dillon District Four, appreciates the efforts from Walmart, Perdue Farms and UNCP to provide our students with the opportunity to develop emotional and social skills needed to make a positive impact in our community.

The curriculum resources provided by the Mendez Foundation have been used in previous research and have been proven to be effective in helping children and adolescents with social development. The lessons include games, role plays, and class discussions.

Wellness Grant2

Patrick Cole (left) counseling graduate student, Michael McRae, assistant principal Dillon Middle School, Rodney Cook, principal of Dillon Middle, Randy Brown, director of Perdue operations in Dillon, Ray Rogers, superintendent of Dillon School District 4, Shenika Jones and Jonathan Ricks, assistant professors.