BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Kurt Michael, a licensed psychologist and the Stanley R. Aeschleman Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Appalachian State University’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology, is part of a team awarded $2.5 million in funding through the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for the “Rural School Mental Health Training and Service Provision in North Carolina” grant proposal. Michael will serve as the grant’s principal investigator for Appalachian.
The successful proposal, which will be funded over the next five years, is based on a three-way partnership between Appalachian, the Ashe County Schools District and RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition.
Appalachian’s initial funds from the grant — $166,665 — cover Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, and were conferred through the Ashe County Schools District. Michael expects to receive more than $800,000 in total funding over the five-year cycle of the grant.
“The most important benefit of the grant is to provide ready access to effective, supervised mental health services to youth and families in rural Western North Carolina schools who would otherwise go without these much-needed treatments,” Michael said.
He added, “A significant percentage of students in rural schools are at risk of death by suicide, and this partnership will emphasize the implementation and study of effective assessment and management strategies for youth who present with these concerns.”
The ED grant will support a scaling up of the long-standing partnership between Appalachian and rural K–12 schools in developing and sustaining training sites called Assessment, Support and Counseling (ASC) Centers designed to serve youth and families in rural North Carolina communities. Michael, along with Dr. Angela Quick, director of RTI International’s Center for Education Services, co-founded the original ASC Center at Watauga High School.
Additionally, the grant will help to deepen preprofessional preparation of Appalachian doctoral students in clinical psychology in hopes of deploying them strategically into high-need schools after graduation. Preprofessional preparation will also include advanced, targeted coursework and practicum training in the provision and study of rural school mental health services.
“Overall, these funded efforts across the key partners will bring much-needed workforce preparation through the Appalachian doctoral program in clinical psychology and essential workforce development in the rural schools of North Carolina for years to come,” Michael said.
All of the aforementioned elements will be coordinated through the Ashe County Schools District.
Jamie Little, veteran teacher and director of student services at Ashe County Schools, will act as the grant project manager.
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About the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology
Appalachian’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors seeking the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, as well as 80 graduate students in three master’s programs (experimental psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management) and the clinical psychology (Psy.D.) doctoral program. Learn more at https://psych.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.