UW-Stout: Graduate student Prokosch promotes children, future in the Boys & Girls Club

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Menomonie, Wisconsin – When she graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with her master’s degree in school counseling in the spring of 2023, Tana Prokosch will already have a wide range of professional experience working with children.

In addition to two field experiences required for the program planned at regional schools during the 2022-23 school year, including a full-time internship in the spring, she will have benefited from more than three years of full-time experience at the Boys & Girls Club in Menomonie.

As of November 2019, she has served as the full-time program coordinator and as of October 2021, as the interim director and program coordinator for the club located at River Heights Elementary School.

The experience has given her the opportunity to put into practice some of the skills she learned in the classroom. “One of the biggest things I learned in the counseling program is how to be a better advocate for students. All students should have the opportunity to be successful,” said Prokosch.

In addition, Prokosch not only helps children to be successful, but also to the growth of the association. Recently, the club hosted a breakfast event at UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center to highlight its efforts to expand services from elementary school students to middle school students in the city.

The Menomonie Club is part of the Greater Chippewa Valley Boys & Girls Clubs, which includes clubs in Eau Claire, Altoona, Chippewa Falls and Black River Falls. Menomonie is the fastest growing of the five locations.

The club recently received an $80,000 grant from the State Department of Public Instruction, which is renewable for up to five years to expand in Menomonie. However, an additional $160,000 will need to be raised to meet all of the expansion needs, said Ann Kaiser, CEO.

Learn more on the club’s Capital Campaign website.

Families pay a fee for children to attend, and 25% to 30% of children receive financial assistance.

“We know there are families who value the resource and know their children are in a safe place,” Kaiser said. “We know that clubs work.”

About 50 students attend the Menomonie Club every day during the school year and summer. Programming helps children develop healthy lifestyles and build character, said Angela Payne, director of resource development and a 2004 UW-Stout graduate in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

“These are the future leaders of Menomonie,” she said.

School officials see a greater need to help children with social and emotional problems, something the club can provide. “Kids need other opportunities besides sports,” said John Samb, school district director of academic support and assistant principal.

Chancellor Katherine Frank serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley. She supports efforts to provide middle school programs at the Menomonie facility.

“Futures are shaped in middle school. It is crucial to the development of an individual. There is a transformative power in being a club member,” she told the breakfast meeting.

She drew a parallel between UW-Stout and the Boys & Girls Club. The mission of both is to provide access and ensure every student has a quality program and equitable space to succeed.

“We are a committed partner to help the Boys & Girls Club become even more successful,” said Frank. “We are both in the business of making sure students are successful throughout the learning pipeline.”

provide support for children

Prokosch, a native of Pepin, graduated in Psychology from UW-Eau Claire in 2018 and began the Masters program at UW-Stout in 2020.

She was first introduced to the club when she was at UW-Eau Claire when she realized she wanted to work with children. With her additional experience at the club in Menomonie, she hopes to work as a counselor in a primary school after her masters.

“Research has shown that many children lack a consistent role model in their lives,” said Prokosch. “We do our best to ensure personal attention at the club.”

She enjoys the flexibility at the club to be creative while coding. The children have academic classes on a daily basis and discuss a variety of topics, such as: B. Diversity.

“We talk about how we involve everyone at the club. It’s a unique situation to have conversations like this and it’s rewarding to see kids opening up,” Prokosch said. “It’s eye-opening and it’s great to support the kids. I have children who tell me their life stories because they feel safe enough in our space to do so.”

UW-Stout’s school counseling program has helped Prokosch develop better quality programs at the club by learning new tools and resources, and helped her improve her communication skills with children.

“It also helped me learn how to remove obstacles to student success. It has really enabled me to help children identify their strengths and challenges,” she said.

“I’m all about supporting kids, but I want to teach them the skills they need to be successful on their own,” she added.

Prokosch has also helped mentor other UW stout school counseling students who have worked at the club and volunteered.

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