Athens City Schools has a new staff member on board working to help students do their best.
WAAY 31 spoke with the district's first-ever mental health services coordinator about how she will help the community and why this position is needed in the school system.
Mikayla Reese says she is excited to take on this new role, knowing how critical mental health services are to students and their families in the school system.
"This position solely focuses on mental health and wellness of the student, acting as a liaison between the school and community agencies for students and families who are in need of mental health resources and connecting them with those resources they need in order to support mental wellness," said Reese.
Schools already work to help students with these issues. That is why counselors like Laura Lou Smith are excited to be getting some help from a new colleague.
"As school counselors, we have the charge to take care of the whole child, which means all of their academic needs, as well as their career goals, but also those personal and social needs, and sometimes, we are very stretched thin. My hope as a school counselor is that Ms. Reese will help bridge the gap between our students' needs and what is available in the community," said Smith.
Reese is proud she'll get to help.
"Mental health has become such a focal point in our society today and many students are affected by mental health concerns, so I think that it's great that Alabama has decided to implement this position into their school systems," said Reese.
The position is paid for through a grant as part of an Alabama State Department of Education pilot program.
Athens City Schools is not the only school district in North Alabama to add this position to the district. Madison County Schools also announced it added a mental health services coordinator.