REI Staff/Student: Jasmine Garland McKinney

Jasmine Garland McKinneyName: Jasmine L. Garland McKinney, MS, LCMHC-A, NCC

Degree(s) earned at ECU: Master of Science in Counselor Education, Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling

What did you like about working with REI?

I loved working with REI during my time at ECU. If I had to narrow it down, I would say my favorite things surrounded my role as CARE Coach for REI and for a rural elementary school within REI’s network. There, I was so excited to form relationships with community stakeholders while also providing school-based mental health services for students and their families.

Can you briefly describe the research/work that you’ve done with REI for school-based mental health supports in rural districts?

During my time within REI, and even now as an alumna, I have presented with the REI team at conferences for organizations including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the National Rural Education Association, and the NC Department of Public Instruction, among others. Each of these presentations highlights REI’s dedication to capacity building and increasing school-based mental health support within rural schools and communities. Through the great work that the REI team has done, it is evident that increasing the presence of these services within schools is imperative to support teachers and increase student success.

Why did you decide to work with REI’s team on this initiative?

I decided to work with REI’s team on this initiative because it highlights all areas that I am passionate about. I am dedicated to increasing access to mental health services for underserved populations, and REI is committed to that mission as well. I also enjoy the team-oriented approach that REI embodies. I have learned so much from everyone in REI and know that I have a lifelong home within the department.

What outcomes/impacts do you hope this work will have?

I hope that this work continues to be provided to rural communities as it is evident that school-based mental health supports increase the capability to embody trauma-informed practices within schools. I believe that these practices are crucial as they recognize the social and contextual factors which have to be considered when discussing student achievement within the classroom setting.

What has been your favorite part of this work?

My favorite part of this work is working with students! I am currently working toward my PhD in Counseling and Counselor Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and I must admit how much I miss working within the school system.

How did this work affect your future education/career decisions?

This work has increased my curiosity surrounding the ways in which trauma can impact a student’s educational journey. In addition, I believe it’s important to mention the impact that intergenerational trauma may have on this journey as well. I am also interested in ways that parents/guardians and school staff can collaborate to best serve students within the building. Because my research interests surround maternal mental health as well, my future career goals include working closely within an integrated university setting. I am hopeful that as a counselor educator, the school-university-community partnerships that have been established through REI can serve as models for my future work.