ANOTHER YEAR IN THE BOOKS!
Superintendent Wayne Weber
Another year is gone by and once again I find myself surprised at how quickly the time has passed. As I look back on the year I am proud of the work our teachers and support staff have done helping our students grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Hopefully, our students continue that growth this summer by finding the right mix of fun, family time, friends and a little studying to reinforce skills learned throughout the year. Any time our children spend outside of school involved in reading, writing, math, and any form of hands-on learning will only help them continue that academic growth. As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. The more we model for our children, the easier it is for them to establish good habits. (I know…easier said than done!) If it’s any consolation to our students, please know that our staff will be mixing academic learning into their summers as well.
This summer, like every other summer, much of our staff will be participating in professional trainings to help them hone their craft and better serve our students. The primary academic training this summer will be centered on learning about our new K-8 reading curriculum, increasing our knowledge on our progress monitoring software, and in better addressing our Response to Intervention process.
Equally important as the continued academic growth of our students is their social and emotional development. Just as they do academically, students come to school with varying levels of social and emotional development. Most of our students come from wonderful, nurturing environments where they feel safe and loved. They come to us understanding how to interact with others, how to take turns, and how to share. However, increasingly, students are coming to us with greater and greater social-emotional needs. They come to us with adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect, or from homes experiencing domestic violence, addiction, or mental illness. These experiences result in what is referred to as “toxic stress” which research shows can damage a child’s developing brain. Stress is a normal part of growing up. Stress resulting from events like sports, exams, or having to give a speech is short-term, and while it may increase our heart rate for a while, we return to normal relatively quickly. Too much stress, or toxic stress, causes our bodies to produce an overload of stress hormones that can harm brain development (ACEs Science 101, Aces Too High,May 23, 2019, //acestoohigh.com/aces-101/).
Children coming to us with adverse experiences have a more difficult time regulating their behavior and their responses to stressful situations. We may see these students having outbursts that do not seem to match the situation. These responses often result in lost learning time for the individual as well as others in the classroom. This type of student is becoming more and more prevalent in schools across the country, including ours. Often the behaviors manifest themselves more in our younger students who are learning to adjust to school and expectations that are different from those at home. We have been working to increase our capacity to serve all our students, but particularly students with these acute needs. This summer we will continue our work centering on mental health and social-emotional needs.
Additionally, in order to better serve this growing population of students in our district, the School Board approved a new position titled Student Success Coordinator (SSC). The SSC is responsible for providing academic and social-emotional support to students throughout the District. The SSC will be responsible for both immediate and long-term student support through direct care of students, program development, and staff education.
The following are the responsibilities of the SSC:
- Lead efforts to address mental health and social/emotional needs
- Provide Trauma Sensitive Schools support to district staff and administration
- Serve as District social-emotional learning coach for staff and administration
- Coordinate with county resources, community providers and parents when appropriate
- Coordinate programming (character education, mindfulness, responsive classroom)
- Support students with transitions through grade levels
- Remove barriers to connect students to school
- Reduce discipline and problem behaviors by increasing social skills
- Intervene during “in the moment” student behaviors
- Implement Tier II and Tier III behavior interventions with students
- Collaborate with staff to enhance student learning by meeting the social/emotional needs of students
I believe it is a much-needed area of focus for our district. Helping our students experiencing anxiety or other stress-related outbreaks will result in a better learning environment for all. Please see the Employment Opportunities section on our website if you or someone you know is interested in applying for the position.
As always, on behalf of the entire Rosendale-Brandon School District staff, thank you for entrusting us with the care and education of your children this past year. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly. We are already looking forward to next year! Have a great summer! I pray the weather is mild, evenings are relaxing, campfires burn bright, and mosquitos are nonexistent.