County adds new student support position


Jessica Doyle

Student advocacy specialist Mary Stackhouse sits in her office in the Starr’s Mill media center. She meets with students weekly as an extra layer of support for their overall well-being.

Fayette County has now created a new position patterned after a position from Forsyth County. 

Student advocacy specialist positions were created in efforts to give kids a safe space where they can talk freely to a trusted adult and help them work through their problems and emotions. 

“It’s an extra layer for kids who might need some more emotional support,” student advocacy specialist Mary Stackhouse said. 

Around 300 students throughout the county are already being served under this new level of support.

Stackhouse is one of the current three student advocacy specialists. In addition to serving Starr’s Mill, she visits seven additional schools each week, working with students in elementary, middle, and high school.

“I love that I get to work with the littles, and then middle school can be challenging, and then have special, unique relationships with these high school kids,” Stackhouse said. “I just love them so much.”

Every Thursday Stackhouse visits Starr’s Mill  where she checks in with students and addresses their individualized personal needs. If students are deemed responsible enough, they are able to text her outside of school if they ever feel they need to contact her. 

“The SAS provides an additional layer of support by being accessible to students anytime, not just during the school day,” Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Patterson said. “We want to ensure that we are providing our students with all the supports available to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.”

Prior to taking this new position, Stackhouse worked at Oak Grove Elementary School. While there, Stackhouse was a PBIS coach and assisted with behavior interventions. She previously worked in the airline and hotel fields as a special service agent in unique and crisis situations. All four of her children graduated from Starr’s Mill.

“I think that I work well with kids,” Stackhouse said. “I just think I have a unique way that I build relationships with kids and think they see me as a trusted adult and know they can talk to me about anything.”

Fayette County hopes for this position to grow, and ultimately have at least one student advocacy specialist to serve each high school’s feeder pattern.