As mental health continues to be a top priority for schools across the country, Cutter Morningstar School District is taking extra measures to ensure that students are not only physically safe, but emotionally and mentally. increase.
The school district recently applied for a $3 million five-year partnership grant to increase the total number of qualified school-based mental health professionals. The U.S. Department of Education released the application in October in response to traumatic and disruptive events such as the pandemic.
District Superintendent Nancy Anderson said she expects to know in January if the grant will be approved.
“We place a lot of emphasis on mental health, and it’s part of our School of Resilience[program]and a lot of what we do,” she said. Health crises and problems are at an all-time high across the country, not only among students, but also among adults, so we recognize the need.”
Video not playing? Click here https://www.youtube.com/embed/aZ_zKTkdESw
A member of the American Association of School Administrators’ National Mental Health Cohort, Anderson says the focus of public schools goes far beyond the needs of traditional academic learning and is focused on “serving the whole child.” I said yes.
Jennifer Almond, principal of Cutter Morning Star Elementary School, agrees.
“At all developmental stages and at the elementary level where we see young children who don’t really have all the coping skills, we’re trying to understand and delve into their behaviors and emotions.” ‘ she said.
“Not just academically, ‘how do I deal with any trauma or behavior?’ and also ‘how do I best deal with all these pieces and how can I best support them?'”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, Almond noted that the incoming young students are a product of the situation.
“They didn’t go to daycare and didn’t get the same instruction that the typical kid gets year after year, so we looked at it and addressed all those holes and missing pieces. Like I said, support them and get them where they need to be,” she said.
The elementary school recently hired additional mental health staff, bringing the total to five, including school counselors.
“They are full,” she said. “Their baggage is very heavy, so it’s great to have resources available for our children. It’s not an area of expertise, we need to look beyond our expertise and look to other professionals who have also been very helpful in helping staff solve problems with children.”
Last spring, the district was approved as a pilot district for the Inclusive Practice Professional Learning Community, which launched this fall. As part of a cohort, this program helps students with disabilities progress to proficiency with grade-level standards. This goes hand in hand with the mental health aspect, Almond said.
“It’s about digging in again and figuring out what’s going on, the root cause of it, and how you can support that student,” she said. All of this together really just supports the whole child, whether it’s grade level, grade level or below, and that’s what matters.”
The strategies used also help support teachers as their work has changed dramatically over the last 15-20 years.
“It’s hard to stick with the old toolbox you’ve always had. You need new tools, new experiences, new understandings. We have the best staff. has the best staff, and each and every one of them goes out of their way to do something for the kids. They need the tools to do that,” she said.
“It reminds me of COVID because it was kind of a big piece for us because our kids have been going through our buildings since they were little. But the teachers are working hard too. They come every day and they work hard. I’m trying to get over it,” she said.