TeenHope welcomes new clinical director and program operations specialist

The TeenHope program will enter the 2021 school year under new leadership, with Valerie Minnich stepping into the director role and Geraldine VanDame serving as the program operations specialist.

TeenHope provides mental health screenings for anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts to students in local middle and high schools.

Since its beginning in 2013, almost 13,000 students have been screened with 2,436, or 18.7%, of all students being identified as at-risk. In the recently completed 2020-2021 school year alone, the percentage of students at-risk increased to 23 percent.

The changes to the program began with the announcement of the retirement of TeenHope’s current director, Kim Moore, who served in the position since 2018.

Additionally, the program’s growth and its upcoming transition to a digital platform revealed a necessity to consolidate a number of roles and positions.

Meet Valerie, the new clinical director of TeenHope

TeenHope’s new director role has now been expanded to include role of clinical director, research and development, and general oversight of the program.

Valerie, who stepped into this position mid-June, is a licensed professional counselor who is nationally certified, and a certified advanced addiction and drug counselor who previously served as the research and development coordinator for TeenHope. She is also currently pursuing a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in human cognition. You can read her full bio here.

Valerie is excited about stepping into this position, particularly as the program transitions to a digital platform.

“Coming from the research and development side of TeenHope has allowed me to really get to know the program as it was, as it is, and guide us to where we want to be. We believe in creating a universal experience for our schools, students and families, and have taken the community’s feedback to heart. I am excited to lead our team through the digital transition and create a new shared experience that will continue our work in teen mental health awareness and education,” says Valerie.

Meet Geraldine, the new program operations specialist of Teenhope

The changes within TeenHope included the development of a new position, a program operations specialist, which consolidated key parts of other positions.

Geraldine has been involved with the TeenHope program as a volunteer since 2019, and she will be working closely with Valerie to ensure effective program implementation when the 2021 school year begins. She has a degree in professional counseling and is currently pursuing a master’s degree.

Thoughts from Samaritan’s executive director

Samaritan Counseling Center Executive Director Steve Schedler sees the restructuring as a good change for the growing program and looks forward to Valerie’s and Geraldine’s work in the new positions, while also sharing appreciation for Kim’s dedication to the program over the last few years.

“Although we are excited for her [Kim] as she embraces a new season of retirement, we also reflect with appreciation on her leadership over the last 3 years,” he said.

A sneak peek at TeenHope for school personnel

School personnel who are interested in learning more about the new program structure and meeting the TeenHope management team are invited to attend a “Back to Screening” night at Samaritan Counseling Center from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 8.

There will be refreshments, a brief presentation to share the program updates to TeenHope, and a question-and-answer time. Interested individuals are requested to RSVP by August 25 by emailing sccteenhope@gmail.com.


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