On April 6 Knoxville Catholic High School announced that president Dickie Sompayrac has been named “Advocate of the Year” by the Smoky Mountain Counseling Association. The purpose of this award is to recognize a person whose advocacy of guidance and counseling services, in a school setting, has an impact for counselors on a local, state, or national level.
Mr. Sompayrac was nominated for this award by the KCHS Guidance Department for his role in keeping the Student Assistance Program (SAP) after funding was pulled for the program starting with the 2015-16 school year. The SAP program provides free, confidential, and weekly counseling services to all students. SAP addresses a student’s mental health needs, during the school day.
During the 2014-15 school year, 47 KCHS students were seen, and more than 350 sessions were held. These free mental-health counseling sessions are necessary for many students. From August 2015 to December 2015, 47 students were seen, and 248 sessions were held, exceeding the number of students seen during that same period last year. Without Mr. Sompayrac finding a way to fund this program, those students would have not had access to mental health services at school.
“It’s rare in these days of budget cuts and bottom lines to have an educator who recognizes the importance of mental health counseling. Mr. Sompayrac knows that a student’s success in life is about more than what scores they receive on a test and what college they attend.
“Therefore, in a world where it is easy to take things for granted, we are very thankful for the opportunity to pause and take some time to thank someone who is doing the right thing, not for the glory or recognition, but for the outcome he probably won’t even get credit for in the long run,” said KCHS counselor Kat Coy. ■