Photo courtesy of Eric Johnson
After receiving a $296,000 grant, Highland Academy in Portland, Tenn., will open an on-campus counseling center for its K-12 students. This counseling center will be led by a licensed school psychologist, and will offer Christian counseling services to both the elementary and high school students beginning in the fall of 2022.
Plans for this project began in January after school administration noticed that there was an increase in the number of students seeking local or remote counseling services. Chadd Watkins, Highland Academy principal, estimates that about 15% of students are currently receiving professional mental health help.
“We've been seeing, just like everyone else through the pandemic, that the mental health of our students has taken a toll,” Watkins said. “We’re talking about kids who are dealing with depression, broken homes, or struggling with relationships. We wanted to provide some sort of professional help here on campus so that all students, despite finances, can have access to quality mental health services.”
With the leadership of Eric Johnson, vice principal for development, and full support from the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, Highland Academy secured the grant to launch this program. The funding will cover the costs to renovate Ponce Hall, as well as assist with the operation of the Center.
According to Johnson, the counseling center will offer a variety of services, such as one-on-one counseling, group counseling, addiction therapy, peer tutoring, and ADHD testing. Johnson says that as a Christian school, Highland Academy wants to be proactive in meeting their students’ mental health needs. “At Highland, we do a great job with the academic, social, and spiritual aspect of our school,” said Johnson. “The counseling center is a continuation of our desire to really reach the whole person, which includes mental health. We're just grateful that God has blessed us with this opportunity to make an impact for our students and provide a service to them that can address the overall mental health wellness.”
During the next several months, the school will be focusing on completing the renovations, and finding the right person to come and lead the Center. Highland Academy is deeply grateful for this grant, and looks forward to seeing how this new addition to the campus will help students in their journey to know Jesus Christ as their best friend.
Kentucky-Tennessee | May 2022