FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fort Smith Public Schools announced Monday that four schools and five counselors in the district have become the first in Arkansas to achieve a nationally recognized counseling designation.

The announcement comes in celebration of National School Counseling Week.

The Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program (RAMP) certifies schools and their counselors that successfully employ the ASCA national model framework. The five counselors took part in and achieved the designation for the 2021-2022 school year.

The following FSPS schools (and corresponding school counselors) receive this national certification:

– Darby Middle School (Cherri Byford and Cassidy Hodge)

– Barling Elementary School (Kandace Weisenfels)

– Fairview Elementary School (Ginetta Tipton)

– Woods Elementary School (Hannah Massey)

According to FSPS, the national model framework establishes a “comprehensive, data-driven program resulting in improved student outcomes.” The program reportedly helps equip students with the skills they need to reach their full potential and become productive members of society, the district says.

“I am very happy for them, fully cognizant of the extra hours and data collection they undertook to fully define, manage, deliver, and assess their schools counseling program.  That commitment to strive for the highest national recognition available for school counselors speaks to their passion to serve the individual students in their schools. This accomplishment demonstrates how educators in Fort Smith Public Schools are putting students first,” said Dr. Michael Farrell, FSPS executive director of student services.

The FSPS school board plans to recognize the schools and their counselors at the school board meeting on Feb. 27.

Across the U.S. only 1,200 schools have earned the RAMP designation.