rootEd Missouri names Nancy Strothmann its advisor of the year.
Inaugural recognition part of statewide effort to place dedicated advisors in rural high schools to help students develop and achieve strong plans for lifelong success
A college and career advisor at Cape Central High School in Cape Girardeau has been named “Advisor of the Year” for her efforts to help high school students in rural communities develop and achieve strong plans for life after graduation–whether they are bound for college, career, or the military.
Nancy Strothmann, who was recognized on Wednesday night during an awards ceremony at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, was chosen to receive the inaugural award by rootEd Missouri following a statewide nomination and selection process. rootEd Missouri is a collaborative effort among national organization rootEd Alliance, Ozarks Technical Community College, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) designed to boost postsecondary outcomes for students in rural communities by placing dedicated advisors, called rootEd advisors, in rural high schools to provide students with college and career planning support.
“Research shows students in rural communities face unique barriers to accessing and achieving success after high school. We’ve found placing trained advisors in rural high schools to provide students with dedicated college and career support is an effective solution,” said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon, who provided a keynote address at the awards ceremony. “Nancy has helped define what success looks like in this expanding effort, and we are grateful for her tireless work to serve not just her students but also her community.”
Among other achievements, Strothmann has increased the number of high school seniors who completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), a key document in securing financial support for postsecondary education and training, from 36 percent last year to 47 percent this year.
Beth Brunkhorst, who serves as Director of Counseling at Cape Central High School, praised Strothmann’s drive to meet the needs of all her students and families, often going beyond what is expected of her role.
“I cannot say enough about what an impact [Nancy] has already had on the lives of our students,” Brunkhorst said. “She has not only worked with them on getting FAFSA and college applications done but has connected some with other resources such as vocational rehabilitation and is even trying to get help for a student who needs an eye doctor and may need surgery. She is also helping with our Spanish-speaking students and is currently trying to help a student whose mother only speaks Spanish.”
In addition to naming the Advisor of the Year, rootEd Missouri also awarded Jill Gantz, a rootEd advisor at Crest Ridge High School in Centerview and Northwest High School in Hughesville, with the “Innovation Award” for her creative approaches to connecting with students, and Rachelle Brown, a rootEd advisor at Ava High School in Ava, with the “110% Award” for going above and beyond to engage her students, their families, and the school community.
The three awards were presented during an awards ceremony at rootEd Missouri’s statewide advisor training. The training brought together 130 advisors who will be serving students during the 2022-2023 school year.
“Since we began our work in Missouri in 2018 with eight schools, rootEd has expanded our reach to 135 schools, enabling us to reach 12,000 students annually. The lifeblood of this work is our incredible group of advisors,” said rootEd Alliance President and Head of Philanthropy and Social Impact at BDT & Company, Noa Meyer. “The advisors’ impact is demonstrable and life-changing: postsecondary enrollment rates at participating Missouri schools has increased 14 percent, and a third of students report they would not have enrolled in college without the help of their advisor. We’re proud to continue to scale this success, and we applaud the awardees, all of the advisors, and our Missouri partners for their dedication and creativity.”
Recognizing the success of the program to date, the state recently allocated an additional $10 million to continue its expansion.
“We’re thrilled to be able to combine federal relief dollars and state funds to make this opportunity available to additional rural Missouri schools, where school counselors’ plates were already full and have become even more so as our students continue to face challenges brought on by the pandemic,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “Schools are working to equip students with a high-quality education, so they are prepared for life after graduation—and with the help of partners like rootEd Missouri, we can be certain students have the map to get to their next destination and beyond.”
Header photo caption: (L-R): OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon, Rachelle Brown, Jill Gantz, Nancy Strothmann, Mo. State Rep. Brad Pollitt
Media contact: Mark Miller, OTC chief media relations officer, phone: (417) 447-2655, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About rootEd Alliance
rootEd Alliance, Inc. is a collaborative effort founded by family business owners and philanthropists who recognize that all students need more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy. Rural students face unique barriers to pursuing a postsecondary pathway, and rootEd aims to remove these barriers and expand opportunity by investing philanthropic capital in a transformative advising model and partnering with states to bring it to scale. The rootEd model trains and places dedicated advisors in rural high schools. This ensures students have the resources they need to chart a path beyond high school—to the military or technical school, community college or a bachelor’s degree. The rootEd model has a proven track record of success across rural communities in Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho. rootEd Alliance was born out of BDT & Company’s commitment to convening and catalyzing philanthropists around big ideas that are under-resourced and overlooked, with great potential for impact. For more information, please visit: https://rootEdAlliance.org/.