Teachers have a lot to worry about on a day-to-day basis. Not only are they tasked with effectively managing a classroom but also serve a million other unofficials purposes that keep a school running. They’re held to a high standard and evaluated in-part based on their student’s academic performance.
Something that isn’t often talked about is the condition of the students that teachers are tasked with instructing. In many cases students may experience serious challeneges that can get in the way of their learning. Two South Pike principals recognized that dichotomy and decided to do something about it.
Osyka Elementary School Principal Angela Lowery and Eva Gordon Lower Principal Kim Daniels received permisison from the South Pike School District board to apply for a grant meant to fund mental health services at its regular meeting Thursday morning in Magnolia.
The School-Based Health Solution Network grant will support both student-services on each elementary school campus but will also fully-fund a mental health professional. SBHSN is a private organziation funded by philanthropy and national health insurance plans.
SBHSN grants serve two purposes — they provide a recurring and discretionary award up to $5,000 each year that is specifically earmarked to fun student services activities on campus. The other piece of the grant is the placement of a mental health professional, referred to as a “transitional coach”, at each campus. That person will be tasked with providing “evidence-based” behavioral and social-emotional support for at-risk students.
In their grant application, Daniels and Lowery estimate that 35% of students at their schools have experienced trauma and/or abuse and that about 30% of students are in need of preventative mental health counseling.
“Students have trouble with behavior issues as a result of having a traumatic experience that occurred outside of the school,” the principals wrote in their joint-application. “These behaviors include not getting along with peers, inattentiveness in class, disrespect to teachers, oppositional defiance, withdrawn aggressions, and severe anger issues. These behaviors result in students having failing or low grades, which could possibly result in retention.”
Daniels and Lowery said that some students struggling with mental illness may not have sufficient access to mental health resources.
“Students also suffer with undiagnosed mental illnesses or other diagnosis that could possibly hinder a child from learning,” they wrote in their application. “The students have failed to be diagnosed because most families cannot afford to take students to the appropriate doctors for help.”
They said that the grant would be used to bring mental and behavioral specialists onto campus to meet with students during school hours. The scope of their work would be from diagnosisng behavior to administering interventions with students to improve behavior.
Both schools already have several interventions in place, but this grant would help them provide more care for students. The principals noted in their application that students meet with a school counselor individually, every student receives character education once per week and that a mental health therapist comes to each campus twice per week to meet with certain students.
In other business, the board:
• Approved test security plans submitted by Testing Coordinator Gloria Shropshire.
• Approved the district athletic handbook for fiscal year 2019-20.
• Approved a service contract between the South Pike School District and and Concept Enterprise, Inc., for cloud-based time clock system to increase security at $2.95 per employee each month. This service should allow the district to recover hourly personnel data if it is hacked again.
• Hired Eva Gordon Upper Elementary teacher Jacqueline Tobias, South Pike Alternative School teacher Christie Jackson, bus driver Felicia Jackson, substitute custodian Robbie Lewis, substitute bus driver Bryant Ratliff and South Pike yearbook sponsors Detria Redding and Pamela Matthews.
• Accepted the resignations of bus driver Edna Carter and teaching assistant Teresa Coston.