Mountie Quest aims to build ‘a successful future’
As a long-time social work professional, Pat Peltier recognized long ago the power of being able to expose children to new and challenging experiences. But at the same time, she also understands that there are many families who are unable to provide formative experiences for their kids due to financial stress of one sort or another.
Peltier served as a school-based outreach counselor at South Williamsport Area School District for 17 years, on contract from Diakon Family Life Services, a local counseling agency. In her role, she counseled students and families who were struggling with various kinds of issues.
“I also provided preventive level services, as well, including Girls on the Run, Mountie Milers, therapy dog reading programs and Theatre Night Out,” she said.
She retired from the district in July 2018, but remains involved in the Mountie Quest program, of which she is the founder and serves as the president of a board of six people.
It began as a “dream” that she presented to district superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm, in which she envisioned finding a way to provide funding for activities she knew could be beneficial to students, but may not be possible due to financial hardships.
Mountie Quest helps students take a proactive approach towards building a successful future by raising funds for students at any of the district’s schools.
Funding allows students to do things like participate in field trips that might require a fee, take part in karate classes or attend local college workshops.
“Providing for such experiences allows kids to explore new ideas and skills, helps to increase self-esteem and builds resilience,” she said. “The ability to bounce back in the face of diversity.”
Thanks to Mountie Quest, five senior high students were able to attend national conventions for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). A graduating student received clothing to be worn during job interviews and several students attended Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week.
According to high school counselor Emily Wagner, the program supports the mission of the school counseling department, where support is provided for all students.
“Mountie Quest allows any students in the district, regardless of the need, the opportunity to gain exposure to formative experiences,” Wagner said. “These experiences have helped to build self-esteem, resiliency, and positive coping skills to all who have taken advantage of the program.”
Students who take part in experiences outside of the school day gain “leadership, problem-solving, self-regulating and other life skills,” Wagner said. About 15 students have been referred to the Mountie Quest program so far this year and she expects that number to increase as spring approaches, Peltier added. She encourages applications for academic classes; athletic activities; opportunities in the arts, like music, theater, dance and painting; and for other programs, such as Lycoming College for Kids.
Applications, which are available through the guidance offices in each of the buildings, must be signed by a parent or guardian in an effort to not only permit involvement, but also as a way to recognize the importance of the family entity.