ASU Counselor Education hosted SOAR symposium

ALAMOSA – Over 400 San Luis Valley educators, counselors, social workers and community members who work with students, clients, and families impacted by addictions, attended the Adams State University Counselor Education Department “Supporting Outcomes and Advocacy for Recovery (SOAR)” symposium on Feb. 21. Addressing the very real need every community experiences with addictions, the event was co-sponsored Office of Title V Initiatives, in partnership with SLV Behavioral Health Group, and support from CoACT Colorado.

According to Dr. Janessa Henninger, assistant professor of counselor education and event coordinator, the symposium provided opportunities to explore all the many aspects of the aftermath of addictions and how to provide support for those involved and impacted by addictions. “We had a wonderful turnout. The attendants were excited about all the different sessions.”

Dr. Mark Manzanares, Counselor Education Department chair, believes the symposium topics were very relevant to the region. “Our keynote, Tom McGee, created a documentary on people living off-the-grid in the San Luis Valley. As an entire community we need to learn how to come together especially for the children and their education.”

Experts in their field presented on over 25 workshops including prenatal substance exposure, impacts of poverty, generational addiction, classroom management, curriculum on walls, effects of drug abuse on children in school, grief and loss within the family system, child abuse and neglect and drug abuse, teen dating violence, working with incarcerated parents, and self-care and impaired colleagues.

The lawyer who helped draft the Claire Davis School Safety Act presented the implications for school professionals in relation to this legislation. This Act imposes a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for schools if a school fails to exercise “reasonable care” to protect all students, faculty and staff from “reasonably foreseeable” acts of violence that occurs at school or a school-sponsored activity. “This workshop helped clarify the responsibility of educators and school administrators when faced with potential security threats,” Manzanares added.

The day ended with an opportunity to network with presenters, including McGee. “I really appreciate the hard-work and effort Dr. Henninger committed to make this event successful,” Manzanares said.

Henninger worked with Anna Torello, Adams State Title V project specialist, and nearly 30 counselor education graduate students to coordinate all the workshops and ensure the event went smoothly.

Caption: Participants from the Alamosa School District, SLV Behavior Health, La Puente, La Llave and other school districts and nonprofits register for the free Adams State SOAR symposium./Photos courtesy of Adams State