DENVER, CO – A delegation of representatives from The College of New Jersey traveled to Denver, CO in October to attend and present at the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s annual, national conference. The conference, which took place from October 16th through October 20th, focused on “promoting unity while affirming diversity.” Dr. Sandy Gibson and Assistant Provost for Community Engaged Learning Programs & Partnerships, Pat Donohue, were invited to give a presentation on TCNJ’s involvement with the Trenton Prevention Policy Board (TPPB).
The TPPB is a local board dedicated to addressing the issue of juvenile delinquency and promoting positive youth development in the city of Trenton. The grassroots effort, which is supported by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and facilitated by The College of New Jersey, is advanced through policy, program, and practice recommendations that are vetted by academic partners and voted on by board members. Those recommendations are presented in an annual report, which the TPPB subsequently uses to set its implementation agenda for the year.
The School of Counselor Education at TCNJ has been involved with the TPPB for several years through Dr. Sandy Gibson, and most recently, Dr. Stuart Roe; Pat Donohue serves as co-chair of the board. In their presentation, Dr. Gibson and Pat Donohue discussed the community-wide outcomes of the TPPB initiative, as well as the counseling program’s work with TCNJ Bonner and TPPB community partners.
Faculty members from TCNJ work closely with the TPPB by leveraging the resources of the College to support the board’s mission. Known as Bonner Academic Fellows, these faculty members educate TPPB members on the value of evidence-based actions, help programs understand the value of evaluation, and provide literature reviews on topics and recommendations identified by Board members. Faculty also help facilitate the dialogue within the Board’s subcommittees, offer training presentations on best practices, and help negotiate plans of action that do not conflict with other groups or organizations.
This year, Dr. Gibson has some of her students working directly on the TPPB initiative through their course. Her students have conducted research on and put together community presentations around prevention strategies, including those focused on violence. Dr. Gibson presented to the TPPB in September this year with the results of some of her students’ work on violence prevention strategies.
In addition, counseling students have worked closely with the Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement as part of its curriculum. One course this year is facilitating monthly meetings with students in the Bonner Community Scholars program to discuss their experiences with their community partner sites and organizing the Community Engaged Learning program at TCNJ. A second class is working with TCNJ Bonner and TPPB community partners to help build their capacity through measuring and evaluating their programs and identifying potential funding sources.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for Dr. Gibson and Pat Donohue to showcase the innovative work that TCNJ is doing in community engaged learning, and connecting the underutilized resources of the College with the needs of the community. The unique partnership between TCNJ and the Attorney General’s Office in the Trenton Prevention Policy Board initiative allows the board to connect the expertise of the community and grassroots organizations, with the research and analytical facilities of the College to produce evidence-based grassroots recommendations for addressing juvenile delinquency in Trenton.
The Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) emphasizes the need for quality education and supervision of counselors in all work settings. Through the accreditation process and professional development activities, ACES strives to continue to improve the education, credentialing and supervision of counselors. The association strives to encourage publications on current issues, relevant research, proven practices, ethical standards and conversations on related problems. Persons who are engaged in the professional preparation of counselors will find leadership through ACES.
The Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement is responsible for mobilizing faculty, students and staff to help sustain and advance the communities in which we live; in other words, to find mission-consistent ways to improve the quality of life for all. It cultivates the common ground that exists between the educational mission of the College and the needs of non-profit organizations and neighborhoods. It does so by creating teaching and learning opportunities that simultaneously build the capacity of TCNJ students and these groups and communities. Students become more knowledgeable, skilled and civic minded—while community partners gain additional resources to effectuate positive change.
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