Engage OK Counselors - August 2016 Newsletter

EngageOK Counselors

August 2016

Michelle Taylor

 Counselor of the Year Named for 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Michelle K. Taylor, who has been named the 2017 Oklahoma School Counselor of the Year. Dr. Taylor was recognized by Superintendent Hofmeister during the EngageOK On the Road Conference in Edmond Santa Fe on Tuesday, July 26. 

Dr. Taylor is a School Counselor at Adair High School, where she has worked for 10 years. She completed her Doctoral degree in Occupational and Adult Education at Oklahoma State University and her graduate studies at The University of Oklahoma. Dr. Taylor has studied stress and its effects on learning and strives to help teachers understand students’ different learning styles.

Dr. Taylor initiated a ‘teachers as advisors’ program that fosters better communication between the teachers and parents as well as provided mentoring for students. She has served on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club, is active in the Northern Oklahoma Rural Alliance, and the board of NE Oklahoma’s Hope Coalition. 

Dr. Taylor is the proud mom of two children who attend Adair Middle School and has been married to husband, Shawn for 18 years.  When not at one of the children’s sporting events, Michelle enjoys hiking, reading, and photography.

Important New Information

We know how much has changed this year and we have been working on all of that information for you. As soon as we have the Concurrent Enrollment Brochure and the Graduation Checklist, we will send them to you directly in an email. In the meantime, you can contact Shelly Ellis with your immediate questions at shelly.ellis@sde.ok.gov or 405-521-3549. Here is a quick link to an update on testing:

Testing Requirements in 2016-2017 as compared to 2015-2016

ESSA Survey Looks for Your Voice

The Oklahoma State Department of Education wants your feedback to help improve preK-12 public education in Oklahoma. This exciting opportunity to make your voice heard comes as the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) restores greater flexibility about federal education policy to states and districts while ensuring accountability for the success of all children. The measure, signed into law by President Obama in late 2015, reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

 ESSA enhances the ability of OSDE to collaborate with education’s many stakeholders – including parents, educators and community members – on an ESSA state plan improving results for kids. This is your chance to help determine how federal dollars should best be invested and to provide input that frames accountability and school culture in Oklahoma for years to come.

 Our state has already made big strides forward. We are implementing strong, new academic standards for English language arts and mathematics and building a culture of excellence that replaces excessive standardized testing with more meaningful assessments and rich instruction.

 More opportunities remain, however, and OSDE needs your input. Please take some time to fill out the survey here:http://sde.ok.gov/sde/essa

We want to hear from you!

Megan Moore

School Spotlight - Norman North High School TRUST Club

We know that so many schools are doing great things! We want to hear from YOU about your counseling program or student group and what amazing things you are doing. CLICK HERE to nominate a school, a student group, or a program that is doing great things in your community.

Our first spotlight is on a student group at Norman North High School. TRUST Club (T-wolves Refusing Unsafe Student Trends) kicks off its second year this month. The student group is made up of about 50 students who came together last fall to promote safety, health, and kindness at the large 6A high school.

President Megan Moore collaborated with the Student Advocacy Coordinator at her school to start the group.

“I started trust club because I believed there were things going on in the high school that too many students were just blowing off and not taking seriously,” said Moore, who is a senior.

Last year the students raised awareness at their school by promoting Unity Week (an anti-bullying week), Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week, and Sexual Assault Awareness Day. The club also participated in lots of school-wide events. Some of the students also participated in a Women’s Resource Center Community Forum in the Spring.

“This year TRUST Club will be trying to reach out to our students even more than we did the last year,” Moore said. “We have two new sponsors this year who have come up with great ideas for us to plan ahead so that our message of awareness will be even greater.”

The club is already planning more activities this year, including all the awareness activities they held last year. 

“It is refreshing and energizing to see students excited about changing the culture of their school by making all students feel welcome,” said Lori Hollingsworth, new TRUST Club sponsor and Student Advocacy Coordinator. “I look forward to working closely with these students to make an impact, not only at Norman North, but also in the community.”

New Webinars Scheduled for 2016-2017

Several new webinars are currently under development in the area of Prevention Services. The webinars will be offered live so that counselors and other educators may ask questions and interact with the presenters, but also will be archived online for later use.

“I know how busy school counselors are, so I wanted to make the training available whenever a counselor might be able to watch it,” said Michelle Sutherlin, Director of Prevention Services at the OSDE. “I hope people will be able to join us during our live seminar. However, the webinars will be available after the initial event to let learners watch at their convenience. Whether it is on a lunch break, before or after school, or from the comfort of their home, these trainings are designed to be user friendly.

Our first webinar will be "Mental Health Concerns and Your Students." It will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19. CLICK HERE to sign up to attend virtually with us!

Course Description: As the rise in mental health issues grows in today's youth, there is an ever increasing chance you will have a student with mental health struggles in your school. This course will help counselors and other educators know what to do it they are concerned about a student's mental health status; who to talk to about your concern; what to say to the student; and will give warning signs for mental health issues. State-wide resources and some best practices forms will be shared. This training is based on evidence-based trainings from Lifelines Suicide Prevention and Mental Health First Aid. 

Our second webinar will be "Building a Crisis Team" It will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3. CLICK HERE to sign up to attend virtually with us!

Course Description: Many times schools don’t have a crisis team in place and have never thought about it until they are in the middle of a crisis. This training would include how to respond to a tragedy (including suicide, trauma, school violence, community violence, etc.), who should be on a crisis team, and how to work with your community and the OSDE to support your school community. Resources and best practices will be shared with attendees.

Our third webinar will be "Drugs and Alcohol in Schools: What is trending, how to spot it, and what is your role as a counselor" It will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13. CLICK HERE to sign up to attend virtually with us!

Course Description: As Red Ribbon Week approaches, counselors need all the information they can to share with students, faculty and staff. Hear from an ABLE Agent on the most current information about drugs and alcohol and learn how to help students in your role as a counselor. Resources will be provided.

While these sessions are in the works, Sutherlin said she is open to other ideas and needs of counselors and other educators. You can contact her at Michelle.Sutherlin@sde.ok.gov or 405-521-2106 for other sessions you would like to see. Or CLICK HERE to provide ideas. Sutherlin said she is also available to give in-person professional development on these sessions or others upon request.

Sessions in the works include:

September 19, 11 a.m. - Mental Health Concerns and Your Students
October 3, 3 p.m. - Building a Crisis Team
October 13, 2 p.m. - Drugs and Alcohol in Schools: What is trending, how to spot it, and what is your role as a counselor
November - Bullying Prevention in 2016
January - Working with Students Returning from a Mental Health Crisis
February - Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault
March - How to Build Empathy in the Classroom and Beyond
April - Community Collaboration: How to work with your community to serve your school
May - Engaging Parents in Prevention

Nominate Presidential Scholars Now

It’s time to nominate students for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. We encourage you to nominate those students who have displayed excellence in scholarship, involvement in school and community service, and leadership and character. In order to nominate a student, please fill out the survey found by CLICKING HERE. The survey is currently open and will close on Friday, October 21, at 4 pm. In order to be eligible, students must be seniors who will graduate between January and June of 2017, are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and who attend public, parochial, or independent schools, as well as those who are home-schooled.

Shelly Ellis

Ellis Tabbed to Lead     State Counselors

As the Executive Director of Counseling, my goal is to provide training and support to counselors, administrators, teachers, students, and families across our state in order to engage everyone in the education of our children. I have spent my time in public education in various positions, allowing me the opportunity to see education from many perspectives.

My experiences include serving as a Middle School Principal, a Middle School Assistant Principal, and a High School Counselor for Norman Public Schools. I taught Middle School science at Lone Grove Public Schools and High School science at McLoud Public Schools. I also had the opportunity to work at the K20 Center at The University of Oklahoma as the Parent and Community Specialist for the GEAR UP for SUCCESS grant traveling around the state working with counselors, principals, superintendents, and families.

My favorite job in education is my position as a mom to publicly educated children. My husband, Nate, and I have 4 children. Gabi is a sophomore at The University of Oklahoma, Jake is a junior and Kylie is a sophomore at Norman North High School, and Will is in 6th grade at Whittier Middle School. 

Both my BS degree in Biology and my M. Ed. degree in School Counseling are from East Central University in Ada, OK – Fight on East Central! I’m currently completing my PhD from The University of Oklahoma in Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision. I look forward to working with all of the educators and families across our Great State!

Michelle Sutherlin

Sutherlin Uses School Experience in Prevention

As a licensed school counselor and an advocate for students, I hope to take my practical experience and use it to benefit counselors and other educators in the Prevention Services division at the OSDE. I spent five years as a middle school counselor and one year as the Student Advocacy Coordinator in the Norman Public Schools. I have a Master’s Degree in Human Relations (counseling) from the University of Oklahoma. I am continuing my counseling hours and will soon have enough to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

My bachelor’s degree is in journalism, also from OU. I was a newspaper reporter for a large newspaper and adjunct instructor of journalism at OU before returning to school to become a counselor. I hope to take my love for journalism and counseling to regularly communicate to Oklahoma educators all the information I am gathering for you in my new position. I also have worked in disaster services, I have worked with students at a local university in Student Affairs, and have served in numerous volunteer capacities in my community.

Most importantly to me, I am mom to Ryan, 14, and Will, 12, who started high school and middle school this year (respectively). I have been married to my husband, Brad, for 19 years. My boys play competitive soccer, which has us traveling all over the country for tournaments and games.

I can’t wait to hear from you all about how I can serve you better and what I can do to make your jobs easier. 

Contact Information

Michelle and Shelly

Shelly Ellis, M.Ed.
Executive Director of Counseling
(405) 521-3549

Michelle Sutherlin, MHR
Director of Prevention Services
(405) 521-2106


Both our counseling site and prevention site are changing! We are updating our most current information and resources. Check back often to see the updates!

Click below for:


Professional Collaboration Network

The most effective collaboration, learning, and sharing happens when we share ideas. We encourage counselors, educators, administrators, parents, students, and the community to participate in our Professional Collaboration Network.

Web site: www.preventionok.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/preventionok

Twitter: @PreventionOK

Instagram: YouthPreventionOK

Blog: preventionok.blogspot.com


American School Counselors Association

Oklahoma School Counselors Association

International Bullying Prevention Association

Oklahoma Counseling Association


OSCA Conference


OSCA Fall Conference

First-Year High School Counselors

Guidance Fest

IBPA Conference

ASCA National Conference

Child Abuse Prevention Posters for Your School

A new law was passed that went into effect July 1, 2016, requiring all schools to post the DHS hotline number in both English and Spanish. Although you don't have to use this poster, feel free to click on the images below which will allow you to print the posters and post them in your school!

Child Abuse PosterChild Abuse Poster en Espanol

Unity Day Poster

Awareness Calendar


World Suicide Prevention Day – Sept. 10
National Suicide Prevention Week – Sept. 5-11


Unity Day – Oct. 19
World Mental Health Day - Oct. 10
Mental Illness Awareness Week – Oct. 2-8
Red Ribbon Week – Oct. 23-31
Bullying Prevention Month
Domestic Violence Awareness Month

World AIDS Day – Dec. 1
Human Rights Day – Dec. 10

Mental Health Month

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month


Random Acts of Kindness Week – Feb. 14-20

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – Feb. 21-27

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month


Self-Injury Awareness Day – 

March 1
Kick Butts Day (tobacco free) – March 15 


National Youth Violence Prevention Week – April 3-7
Day of Silence – April 15
Sexual Assault Awareness Month Day of Action – April 4
Alcohol Awareness Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
National Counselor Awareness Month

World No Tobacco Day – May 31
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week – May 7-13

Red Ribbon Week