Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter: CMHS Expands Social-Emotional Support Systems
Posted on 10/06/2021
Since the spring of 2020, temporary school closures in over 180 countries have kept approximately 1.6 billion students out of school worldwide. The stressors associated with the pandemic and lack of access to schools, such as social isolation, loss of routines, financial difficulty, and lack of technology, have increased the need for effective social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. Studies on the subject find that many students have been left with heightened anxiety and an increase in behavioral issues.

To help alleviate those barriers for our students, the Office of Personnel and Culture worked closely with the Department of Special Education to staff our high school with key positions that will support our students' emotional and mental health. This incredible team will seek out students who may need strategies to address feelings of anger, anxiety, conflict resolution, or stress.

"Healthy social-emotional development is especially important because it impacts the whole child. Studies show that students with good social-emotional skills have better academic performance. They experience fewer behavior problems, better relationships with peers and family, and fewer mental health issues," said Keeyana Riley, District Director of Behavior Intervention Programs.

"We are excited and see this as expanding the village of support for our children," said Dr. Kara Coglianese, superintendent. "We know that a whole-school approach to tackling the issue of emotional and mental health is critical to fostering positive outcomes for students. Our students' psychological needs are not secondary to their academic needs, and we want our families and students to know that we're interested in the success of the whole child," she added.

Here is a brief description of these new student support positions:

Student Advocate Counselor (3): Sarah Gruber-CMHS, Jennifer Barnes-CMHS, Bridgette Tucker-CMMS
Function: Assists with providing social-emotional supports for students. Works closely with the deans and guidance counselors and intervenes when necessary to help remove barriers to students learning.

At-Promise Facilitator: Michelle Cresto CMHS
Function: Works closely with teachers, administrators, and support service by coordinating and facilitating restorative practices for staff and students (Includes coaching and implementing tiered restorative practices.)

Truancy Officer: Eric Green (housed at) CMHS
Function: (At the school building level) Serves as the liaison between students, parents, and school officials and between school officials and law enforcement by intervening through the discovery of risk factors for student attendance. Works in direct collaboration with all mentioned parties to remove barriers dealing with attendance, tardiness, skipping class, and truancy.

Truancy Specialist: Dawn Sanders
Function: Serves as the liaison between students, parents, school officials, school officials, and law enforcement by intervening through the discovery of risk factors for student attendance for all schools once a student becomes truant beyond the help of the truancy officer or other building level supports. Collaborates with government agencies, local police, and other outside resources to help minimize truancy for grades K-12.

Culture and Climate Liaison: Bridgette Tucker
Function: Promotes positive relationships among all students and staff while coordinating and providing necessary interventions to assist students with developing effective social action skills and abilities.

Therapy Dog Program: Biscuit
Function: Provides support and service to CMHS students and staff in an effort to decrease anxiety and provide a level of comfort that enables students to work through a variety of challenging issues.

THE CMHS STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM

Audra Walker
Audra Walker
Culture & Climate Liaison

Sara Gruber
Sara Gruber
Student Advocate Counselor

Michelle Cresto
Michelle Cresto
At Promise Facilitator

Bridgette Tucker
Bridgette Tucker
Student Advocate Counselor

Dawn Sanders
Dawn Sanders
Truancy Specialist

Eric Green
Eric Green
Truancy Officer

Jennifer Barnes
Jennifer Barnes
Student Advocate Counselor

Biscuit, Therapy Dog
Biscuit
Therapy Dog Program

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