The Total Child

Nothing About Us, Without Us’: Advancing Health through a Youth Driven Lens

(Coordinated School Health, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Guest Post by Cameron Estrada, a School-Based Health Alliance Youth Development Intern and a member of the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council.

 SBHABlogApril2018

 School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) have been a safe haven and a reliable resource for me throughout middle and high school. Now as a college student, I still advocate for youth health and leadership with the School Based Health Alliance. I hope to share my experiences, what I have learned, and strategies for how other centers can become more youth driven.  

I have seen each side of school-based health from a student’s perspective. I have gone into my SBHC for check-ups for my physical wellbeing, seen a provider for mental health, and was the president of my SBHC’s Youth Advisory Council. From the primary care side of the center the staff was amazing. They cared about me, remembered my name, and encouraged me to take an active role in my health. My staff treated every client with respect and confidentiality and made the transition to a youth driven SBHC simple. When my SBHC wanted to be more youth driven, they asked the students they served the best way to start a group. The Youth Advisory Council increased the center’s focus on youth. As a council we launched student health initiatives with our SBHC that were important to students. We knew when and how to reach our peers. This aided our center’s ability to help more students and provide the services they needed.

From my experience, there are three key steps to making an SBHC more youth driven.

  1.  The first step is to build relationships. Building relationships with students begins the moment they walk through the door. Be authentic with them and reassuring. You do not have to pretend to be their best friend but encourage the healthy behaviors they are exhibiting. Provide students with youth friendly literature in the lobby. If a student has something they want to know more about but are too afraid to ask, a pamphlet or poster might be the answer for them. It might even give them the confidence to ask questions. Build relationships with the faculty at your school. Faculty can be a great resource especially the health teacher, the advisor of student council, or an advisor of any service organizations on campus. These relationships can connect you to students who might want to be involved with the SBHC beyond a patient level. Lastly, build relationships with community partners. My home state is fairly conservative and my SBHC wasn’t allowed to provide full sexual health services or education (only STI screening and condoms without advertising their availability). Partnering with community agencies who could meet these needs meant building relationships and establishing a steady referral process. This holds true to any service your center cannot provide. Relationships are the foundation for the next step.
  2.  The second step to making an SBHC more youth focused is to ask for help. Ask your students if they would be interested in starting a council. Ask the National Honor Society if they want to fulfill their service hours by helping to create a health fair. Ask your student council if they want to start a campaign surrounding sexual health. It is important to remember that the center is not only a resource to the school, but the school is a resource for the center. You can partner with different people within your school to improve the function and reach of your SBHC. The center can not only be a place of healing and learning, but also a place of opportunity and development for students to make a difference in their schools and in their health.
  3.  The final step is to take action. With better school integration, use your new relationships and resources to do something. This can take on many forms. Ask your youth what needs they have. If your council wants more education and access to reproductive health services, help them educate stakeholders at the school, local, and state levels for better policy suited for this. If your student council wants to create their own pamphlet about the health risks of underage drinking to be handed out with every prom ticket, your center can help provide information to guide them. Even something as small as a school club asking for a staff member from the SBHC to come speak at a meeting about anxiety can be a powerful action. The information you gather from asking for help should fuel the actions the SBHC takes.

 My school-based health center was more than a place where I got my physicals for sports. I learned how to be a leader, how to organize and how to be an advocate. It is no coincidence that, even in college, my involvement in youth health has not stopped. I am a School-Based Health Alliance Youth Development Intern and a member of the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council. On my campus, Texas Christian University, I am involved in setting up an event called “Take Back the Night” that raises awareness about sexual violence and supports survivors. The skills and confidence that I gained in high school are the basis of my advocacy and a youth driven SBHC was instrumental to my life. From my experience, an SBHC serves students better when they recognize them as partners and assets to inform and lead the movement for quality, equitable health care.

 

2018 National Healthy Schools Day AASA Blog Tour: School Safety and Positive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Overview

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

 National Healthy Schools Daynewsletter

 As part of National Healthy Schools Day today, AASA Children’s Programs Department hosted a blog tour on school safety to help stimulate conversation on healthy schools and positive SEL, in response to the debate surrounding our schools in light of recent violence in Florida and elsewhere. Participants were asked to one or both of the following questions:

  1. Considering the continued threat of gun violence in our schools, what does a healthy school look like to you today? Have school shootings altered your view of what it means to be a healthy school?
  2.  How can school system leaders help children in their district feel safe, as well as have their physical and social-emotional needs met in a healthy school environment?

CoCAT school safety pop up

Below is a list of the posts that were published as part of the Blog Tour:

Superintendent Voice

Public Health Organizations

Higher Education Researchers

LGBTQ & Student Voice 

  • Time Out Youth, a youth center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies, ages 11-20, in Charlotte, NC and the surrounding areas.  

AASA

Blog Tour: Telemedicine Offsets Loss of Learning Time

(Children’s Health Insurance , Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

The following is a cross-post which was originally published by the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the Milken Institute School for Public Health at George Washington University on March 30, 2018. 

This post is by Dr. Dan Leikvold, Superintendent, Lead-Deadwood-School District (South Dakota)

The Lead-Deadwood School District is a rural district located in the Northern Black Hills of western South Dakota. It has a K-12 population of around 710. The tourism, gaming, and mining industries are the primary economic drivers in the Lead-Deadwood Community.

Although there are many outstanding opportunities for workers in the area, as with many school districts, we too have our share of challenges that are directly associated with the effects of poverty. This includes behavioral issues, transiency, limited access to transportation, and a lack of affordable housing. The free and reduced lunch rate in our district is around 50%. 

Over the course of the last ten years, the school district has identified and worked with multiple local and regional agencies to address the needs of our children and families affected by poverty. We realize we cannot be all things to all people, but we recognize the crucial connection between our children being happy, healthy, safe and supported and their ability to learn at school.

As part of this comprehensive approach, the school district entered into a partnership with Behavior Management Systems (BMS) in 2013 to bring a Family Pathways therapist from BMS to our schools/community full-time. All of the children and adolescents with whom the therapists work must meet the severely and emotionally disturbed criteria as outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the program is open to anyone with this diagnosis whether or not they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This partnership has been a win-win opportunity for both parties and has benefited our children and families immensely. Family Pathways is a fee-for-service program, so the direct costs to the school are minimal and include providing the therapist with an office and internet access, use of a copier, and parking.

After five years of a successful partnership in which we have been able to serve approximately 100 children and families onsite, we have identified another very important issue to address in order to have an even better program. In conjunction with BMS, we will now be providing mental health services to the students in the Lead-Deadwood School District via telemedicine free of charge to students and families, as well as the school district, during the school day.

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the telecommunications infrastructure. It allows healthcare providers to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients without the need for an in-person visit with the medical provider. TeleMed is the service provider BMS and the district use for the service.

 The TeleMed program will alleviate barriers for families, so that medication and other therapies are consistent and maintained. Many times, appointments are missed due to challenges with transportation facing students and families. As a result, obtaining and maintaining adequate medication therapy is interrupted. This new approach will alleviate that problem.

This is how it works. A parent/guardian must be present at each appointment with BMS. BMS will handle all release requirements prior to our students receiving services in our schools. Before each BMS appointment, the School Nurse takes weight and blood pressure data for each student so the BMS provider has this information, but the District is not responsible for or charged for any portion of the services provided in the Lead-Deadwood School District. We are responsible for providing a computer and technical support during the time of the TeleMed appointment with BMS. Our students meet virtually with the BMS provider once per month or more if needed.

Students that receive free lunch will qualify for BMS services at no cost and there is a sliding scale rate for students that do not qualify. We will make referrals to BMS based on school and parent communication, similar to what we currently do with BMS on-site counseling services. BMS has contacted the Lead and Deadwood pharmacies and both are capable of receiving escripts.

Instead of taking a student out of school from three to four hours to an entire day, these virtual, in-building appointments will take a maximum of 20 minutes to half an hour. This will allow parents to come to the elementary school, eliminating the barriers of time, transportation hassles for parents and students, and loss of attendance. We appreciate this partnership and are excited to be able to offer this new service to our children and families.

 Dr. Leikvold is also an Education Advisor to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the Milken Institute School for Public Health at George Washington University for a RWJF-funded project to provide state and local stakeholders in the education and health sectors with tools they can use to develop a sustainable, cross-sector infrastructure to provide integrated supports for the healthy development and academic success of students. For more information visit the Center’s website or Partner Build Grow: An Action Guide for Sustaining Child Development and Prevention Approaches.

Blog Tour: School Safety and Positive Social Emotional Learning (SEL): 2018 National Healthy Schools Day

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

 National Healthy Schools Daynewsletter

As part of National Healthy Schools Day today, AASA Children’s Programs Department is hosting a blog tour on school safety to help stimulate conversation on healthy schools and positive SEL, in response to the debate surrounding our schools in light of recent violence in Florida and elsewhere.

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation today on social media by using the hashtag #HealthySchoolsDay. Post blogs, videos and photos on what a safe learning environment looks like to you. Be sure to tag @AASATotalChild so we can share your posts.

 If you would like to post a blog, we encourage you to answer one or both of the following questions:

  1.  Considering the continued threat of gun violence in our schools, what does a healthy school look like to you today? Have school shootings altered your view of what it means to be a healthy school?
  2.  How can school system leaders help children in their district feel safe, as well as have their physical and social-emotional needs met in a healthy school environment?

Resources and Events 

In response to the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, AASA has assembled a set of resources to support school system leaders.

These resources include an excellent guide on "Talking To Children About Terrorist Attacks and School and Community Shootings In the News" from our partner, the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. Access the resource library.

In late March, the National Prevention Science Coalition (NPSC) organized a Congressional Briefing on School Violence, Safety and Well-Being: A Comprehensive Approach.” You can view the briefing here.

Dr. David Schonfeld, who was one of the expert panelists, is the director of AASA’s partner, the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. He discussed how people process grief in a variety of ways from denial to anger. 

Lauren Hogg, a 14-year-old student who survived the Parkland shooting, gave an emotional account of her experience of what happened to her and her classmates before, during and after the shooting. Dr. Julie Phillips Pollack, the stepmother of Meadow Pollack, who was one of the 17 killed during the shooting, talked about what this tragedy and loss meant to her as both a parent and how it impacted her in her job as an emergency physician.

Grief Over the Holidays: Educators Can Help Students Cope

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

The following is a post from the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement. Learn more about ways to offer support to grieving students at the Coalition to Support Grieving Students website. AASA is part of the Coalition. 

All across the nation, Thanksgiving and the December holidays are a special time for families, schools and communities. Everywhere we look, we see signs of celebration. In schools, there may be pageants, food drives, decorations and parties. In stores, we hear familiar music. On the streets, people wish each other happy holidays and talk about getting together with extended family and close friends.

 
During these times, most of us also think about people we miss, including loved ones who have died. These memories can be especially acute for children and teens who have lost a loved one. They may experience periods of deep sadness, a renewal of their grief, or sudden and unexpected reactions of anger, despair or fear.

These responses may happen the first or second year after a death, or many years later. Educators spend a lot of time with students and are uniquely poised to observe grief responses over time. They can take steps to anticipate challenges. The support and understanding they offer grieving students over the holidays can be especially helpful.

Grief Triggers Can Be Strong

Grief triggers are sudden reminders of the person who died that cause powerful emotional responses. These can include smells or sounds, hearing a song, participating in a family tradition, or even imagining a lost opportunity such as a holiday dinner with the loved one.

 Our holidays are filled with these kinds of reminders, so grief triggers can be frequent and quite strong during these times.

Emotions Can Be Powerful

Grieving children may feel particularly vulnerable when they have grief responses to holiday events. They may isolate themselves from peers or celebrations in an effort to avoid triggers. They may be frustrated or disappointed that they can’t manage these responses. It’s common for children to feel, “I should be past this and able to stay in control now.”

Goals for Educators

By reaching out to grieving students, educators have an opportunity to promote several important goals, including:

  1.  Decreasing students’ sense of isolation. It’s common for grieving children to feel that others do not understand their experience.
  2.  Offering students an opportunity to talk. Students will be thinking about their loved one. They will be reflecting on memories, experiences and feelings.
  3.  Encouraging students to talk with others. In most cases, it is helpful for students to talk honestly with peers and family about their thoughts, feelings and memories.

Steps to Take

  •  Ask open-ended questions. Listen more than talk. For example, ask, “How are the holidays going for you? I wonder what thoughts you’ve been having about your dad lately.”
  •  Accept expressions of emotion. Students may express sadness, pain, frustration, anger or other powerful emotions. Avoid minimizing students’ feelings or trying to put a “positive” spin on their expressions. For example, saying, “It’s important to focus on the good times you had with your dad,” is likely to communicate that you don’t want to hear a student talk about painful things.
  • Reach out to grieving students at school events. The absence of a loved one may be especially noticeable during the classroom party or holiday band concert. Make a point to touch base in some way. Let a student know you’re happy to see her here at the party, or are looking forward to hearing her play in the concert. 
  •  Introduce class activities in a way that acknowledges absences and offers alternatives. For example, if students are making cards for members of their family, invite them, if they wish, to also include cards for someone who is no longer living, or who does not live with the family.
  •  Lead class discussions about holiday stories and experiences with sensitivity. Poems, stories and discussions may present triggers for grieving students. Open up the possibility during discussions (“Sometimes people have sad reactions to the holidays because they miss people. Have any of you ever had an experience like this?”). Consider reaching out after class to see how a grieving student is doing, or learn what he or she thought of the discussion.

 
Children experience grief differently over time. What is true this year for the holidays may not be the same next year. This is why one of the most important things educators can do is ask questions and then listen, with presence and patience.

*Share this flyer, which includes this information in this post.

 

EQUITY SERIES: SEL, Whole Child Education and Student Readiness: How do They Connect?

(Coordinated School Health, Equity Series) Permanent link

Guest Post by Karen Pittman, Co-Founder, President and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment

Imagine this scenario. A smiling five-year-old is brought into a bare room with a table. On the table is a plate with a single marshmallow. The researcher who brought them in says she will back in 15 minutes, and gives them a choice: they can eat the one marshmallow while she’s gone or wait until she returns and have two. This simple test turned out to be an effective measure of willpower or self-control and a strong predictor of future success. Children who displayed early ability to defer gratification, on average, had higher SAT scores, lower body mass index and a host of other desirable outcomes.i


marshmallowtotalchildblog

For decades, the results of the “Marshmallow Test” have been used to suggest that traits like self-control, emotion management and grit matter. Rightly or wrongly, however, the study has also been interpreted to suggest that these are relatively immutable traits that are baked into children early. 

We now have ample evidence that these skills are malleable. Brain research confirms that these skills continue to develop well into adolescent years and even beyond.ii Program evaluations show an increase in skill growth in response to explicit instruction.iii Combined, these findings suggest the need for more intentional focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) as a part of schools’ commitment to educating the whole child.iv  

The good news is that educators are responding to this challenge. The bad news is that efforts to teach SEL can sometimes reinforce counterproductive stereotypes about students and their families.

The statement that social and emotional skills can be taught is technically correct. But the suggestion that schools should teach these skills too often ends with the selection of a curriculum that emphasizes teaching SEL content. This expedient decision can pull educators away from having broader discussions about creating learning contexts that encourage students to demonstrate and build on the skills they have.

A new marshmallow study makes this point unequivocally. Researchers at the University of Rochester once again put young kids into a room with a marshmallow. But this time, the children were randomly assigned to have a pre-encounter with a member of the research team. Some had an unreliable experience: The adult promised fun art supplies but never came back. Others had a positive experience: The adult delivered the art supplies as promised. The impact of this seemingly insignificant encounter was amazing.v  

In the original study, the average time young children waited before eating the marshmallow was about 6 minutes. In this study, the average time for the group that had the reliable pre-experience was 12 minutes. The average time for the group with the unreliable pre-experience was only 3 minutes! Dramatic findings like these are almost unheard of in behavioral studies.

This simple test has enormous implications. It reminds us that even at a young age, a child’s behavior is a product of what they can generally do and what they believe makes sense to do in that situation or environment. The difference between the two groups is clearly not related to their general ability to delay gratification—it is related to their assessment of the specific behavioral cues provided by the adults around them.

A new branch of research called the science of learning reinforces the new marshmallow test findings. This research supports a simple premise: In order for children and youth to learn specific content (academic or otherwise), we must first ensure that we have created learning environments in which they feel socially accepted, emotionally safe and generally supported.vi If these conditions aren’t met, young people are far less likely to engage in the learning activities, to show and use the skills and knowledge they already know, and to take the risk of stretching themselves into new areas of learning and leadership.vii  

 Consider the differences between these two statements:

  • Educators should prioritize social and emotional learning.
  •  Educators should recognize that learning is social and emotional.

 The first statement suggests that educators should take on responsibility for yet another set of skills that they and their students will be held accountable for. This means either that time has to be carved out of the school day to support explicit instruction, or that teachers have to squeeze SEL instruction into what are already demanding and prescriptive curricula.

The second statement suggests that educators need to understand the social and emotional profiles that their students bring into school and do as much as they can to anticipate their reactions to the learning demands, structures and supports being offered them in order to co-create contexts for learning that will differ school to school, class to class, and perhaps student to student.

The second statement, on its surface, seems more challenging. But it is also more empowering. It requires that school administrators, families, and communities acknowledge and support the powerful role that teachers can play not only as deliverers of academic content, but as shapers of the social and emotional contexts in which academic, social and emotional learning happens.

The push to formally integrate social and emotional skills development into the school day and the school curricula is playing out in at least three distinct (but overlapping) efforts.

  • Efforts to improve student behavior in order to address school discipline and school climate issues.
  •  Efforts to increase student engagement in learning through more active, personalized approaches to teaching subject areas such as science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) that respond to talent pipeline gaps.
  •  Efforts to prepare students for their future roles as citizens, community leaders and change makers.

All of these efforts involve deliberate work to integrate opportunities to name, use and build social and emotional skills into the learning content. Not all of these, however, are called social and emotional learning.  

 Project-based learning, deeper learning, service learning, STEM, career and technical education are examples of teaching/learning approaches and curricula that require students to practice the full range of social and emotional skills in the service of mastering academic content. These approaches focus more explicitly on skills like teamwork, problem-solving, critical-thinking, and initiative. These curricula or approaches are frequently described by their content focus or broader academic learning approaches.viii

These approaches, unfortunately, may not be equally available to all students. Teachers in gifted and talented programs and magnet schools, for example, are more likely to be trained and incorporate opportunities for students to demonstrate and develop all of these skills in their classrooms. A growing number of schools and school networks designed to provide these types of learning environments to low-income and minority students exist, but they are not the norm.ix  

Explicitly branded social and emotional programs (such as PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports), in contrast, may focus on these “higher order” skills, but typically have emotion management and empathy as their starting points, moving on to include skills like “grit".x Many schools and districts have begun to implement curricula by starting with an explicit focus on improving student behavior. They have made a strategic decision to roll out these initiatives first in their weakest schools.

This targeted approach is justifiable. It can be an important first step towards reversing the disturbing trends in school discipline and suspension rates and in reducing disparities associated with race, ethnicity, income and gender. This first step becomes dangerous and divisive when it is the only step taken, or, more specifically, the only step taken for a subset of schools serving students and families whose lived experiences give them reasons not to trust schools and educators and give educators reasons not to have high expectations for students.xi  

It is absolutely unacceptable in the 21st century to have the social, emotional and academic competency expectations for black, brown and poor students be defined as having behavior good enough to allow them to stay in their seats so that they can complete needed credits. Readiness for college, work and life requires proficiency if not mastery of the social, emotional and academic competencies that have become the vocabulary of the workforce.

 Learning is social and emotional.

 Honoring this premise means that schools as well as any other systems in which students spend their time have to ensure that all students have access to environments that they find safe, supportive, stimulating and empowering. This means creating safe, supportive, stimulating and empowering opportunities for the adults who work with students to reflect on their own skills, assess the adequacy and have the time and resources needed to create appropriate learning contexts– from core classes to communal spaces. It also means providing opportunities for teachers, students and families to voice and influence systemic changes in the conditions beyond their control that are affecting the social and emotional health of their school communities.xii  

When faced with the opportunity to truly improve young people’s readiness for college, work and life, how can we not respond with all we have?

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i Mischel, Walter; Ebbesen, Ebbe B.; Raskoff Zeiss, Antonette (1972). "Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 21 (2): 204–218.
iiThe Adolescent Brain, Executive Summary, by Jim Casey Opportunities Initiative, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2017 from http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-adolescent-brain/.
Siegel, Dan. Brainstorm: The Teenage Brain from the Inside Out (2014). Penguin Group.
iiiDurlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing
students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1): 405–432.
ivSocial, Emotional and Academic Development Fast Facts. (n.d.). The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from https://dorutodpt4twd.cloudfront.net/content/uploads/2016/11/NCSEADInfographic_Final2.pdf
vCasey, B. J.; Somerville, Leah H.; Gotlib, Ian H.; Ayduk, Ozlem; Franklin, Nicholas T.; Askren, Mary K.; Jonides, John; Berman, Mark G.; Wilson, Nicole L.; Teslovich, Theresa; Glover, Gary; Zayas, Vivian; Mischel, Walter; Shoda, Yuichi (August 29, 2011). "From the Cover: Behavioral and neural correlates of delay of gratification 40 years later". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (36): 14998–15003.
Shorter summary: The Marshmallow Study Revisited. (2012). University of Rochester. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622.
viBerg, Juliette, et al. Science of Learning and Development (2016). (Pre-pub copy) The Opportunity Institute, The Learning Policy Institute, Education Counsel.
viiDurlak, J.A. et al. (2011) “The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions.” Child Development, 82(1) pp.405-432.
Smith, Charles et al. (2016) Preparing Youth to Thrive: Methodology and Findings from the Social and Emotional Learning Challenge. The Forum for Youth Investment, Washington D.C.
viiiEmdin, Christopher. “5 New Approaches to Teaching and Learning: The Next Frontier.” The Huffington Post. January 31, 2014.
Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-emdin/5-new-approaches-to-teaching-strategies_b_4697731.html.
ixExamples include Big Picture Learning network schools (http://www.bigpicture.org/), EL Education schools (https://eleducation.org/), XQ Super Schools (https://xqsuperschool.org/), and KIPP Public Charter schools (http://www.kipp.org/).
xJones, S. et al. Navigating SEL from the Inside Out. (March 2017). Published on line. Harvard School of Education with funding from the Wallace Foundation. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from
http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/Navigating-Social-and-Emotional-Learning-from-the-Inside-Out.pdf.
xiHarold, Benjamin. “Is ‘Grit’ Racist?” Education Week. January 24, 2015.
xiiBridgeland, J., Bruce, M., & Hariharan, A. (2013). The Missing Piece: A National Teacher Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning can Empower Children and Transform Schools. A report for CASEL. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises.

'13 Reasons Why' Discussion Resource Library for Educators and Parents

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

 13reasonswhybanner

The new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, based on 2007 the young adult novel of the same name, revolves around a 17 year old girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. She leaves behind audio recordings to 13 people- 12 students and one school counselor- who she perceives as playing a role in why she killed herself.

 Due to the realistic and graphic depictions of – among other topics-- bullying, rape and the protagonist’s suicide in the show, AASA compiled a resource library for parents and educators on how to talk to youth about the issues conveyed on the show.

 As the National Association of School Psychologists states , “ this is particularly important for adolescents who are isolated, struggling or vulnerable to suggestive images and storylines,” and it is vital to reinforce the message that “suicide is not the solution to problems and help is available.”

The following are the resources we have compiled as of Friday April 28, 2017. We will update the resource library on an ongoing basis on the following page: http://aasa.org/13ReasonsWhyResources.aspx 

Staff Contact

 Kayla Jackson, Project Director
703-875-0725
kjackson@aasa.org

 Resource Library

  •  National Association of School Psychologists. "'13 Reasons Why' Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators"
    •  This resource includes cautions related to the show, guidance for families and educators in recognizing the signs related to youth suicide, safe messaging when talking to students , and additional websites, fact sheets and books to reference on this topic.
     
  •  Child Mind Institute. "Why Talk to Kids About '13 Reasons Why.'" A blog post by Peter Faustino, PsyD, who is a school psychologist in the Bedford Central School District (NY) and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of School Psychologists.
  •  The Jed Foundation and SAVE. "13 Reasons Why: Talking Points for Viewing & Discussing the Netflix Series"
    •  Talking points , available in both English and Spanish, to assist parents, teachers and other educators in talking to youth about suicide as it relates to the situational drama that unfolds in '13 Reasons Why.' 
     

New School Wellness Resources for the New Year

(Coordinated School Health, Healthy Eating and Active Living , National Awareness) Permanent link

The following is a guest post from Cheryl Jackson Lewis, Director, Nutrition, Education, Training, and Technical Assistance Division, Child Nutrition Programs, Food and Nutrition Service. 

 Toolkit Header

Have you set any goals for health and wellness in 2017? There are many ways superintendents can help schools create and cultivate a culture of academic success and wellness. District leaders across the country are championing Local School Wellness Policies, with an understanding that kids with healthier eating patterns and enough physical activity tend to have better grades; remember what was taught in class; behave better in class; and miss less school time. A Local School Wellness Policy is a written document that guides school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. Superintendents play a critical role in helping children have healthy places to learn; and it’s easier than ever to bring everyone together on this important issue.

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 added new provisions for the implementation, evaluation, and public involvement and reporting on the progress of Local School Wellness Policies. The Local School Wellness Policy final rule, published July 21, 2016, requires schools to engage parents, students, and community members in the annual development and assessment of local school wellness policies. It’s important for everyone to be a part of this process so the wellness policy is representative of the community and student’s needs. Local educational agencies must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017.

 School Wellness Champion
 Parents, school staff and administrators, and community members work together to develop the Local School Wellness Policy and put it into action.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Team Nutrition initiative provides a free Local Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit that superintendents, school wellness leaders, and schools can customize to communicate information about their Local School Wellness Policy to parents, principals, and other school staff. The kit includes:

  •  A letter to the wellness coordinator;
  • Sample letter to school principals;
  • Informational flyers, in English and Spanish;
  • Presentations for parents and school staff;
  • Sample newsletter article; and
  • Social media posts and graphics.

 The free Local Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit is available at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy-outreach-toolkit.

Parents and school staff are not always aware of the Local School Wellness Policy and how it is being put into action. These tools can help and may be customized to reflect information specific to the school/school district’s policy. Additional Local Schools Wellness Policy resources on creating, implementing, and evaluating school wellness policies are available at Team Nutrition’s Web site: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy.

January is a great time to reflect on how to further your efforts to engage parents, school staff and the community in school wellness efforts that support academic performance and health. Start with these ready resources and put a plan into action that works for your schools.  

 school garden

 Nutrition education and promotion are part of a Local School Wellness Policy.

Plan Ahead to Cope With Death and School Crisis

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness) Permanent link

A guest post by Dr. Tom Demaria from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, who develops a number of topical articles on bereavement for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students. This blog is a follow-up to the post from November 28, 2016 " Death In a School Community: Four Goals for Supporting Students"

 A death in a school community has a deep impact. The loss will usually touch many individuals—students and staff alike, often the entire school.

It is vital that schools plan ahead to be prepared to deal with a range of possibilities involving the death of a student, teacher or other staff member. Plans should include:

  •  Procedures for informing staff, students and their parents/guardians.
  •  Guidelines about what information is appropriate to share, both generally and in specific situations (for instance, what should be said in cases of suicide, violent death, death after a long illness).
  •  Procedures for providing appropriate supportive services for students and staff. This often includes establishing partnerships with community professionals before an event occurs.
  •  Guidelines for both students and staff about interacting with media.
  •  Policies about funeral attendance, memorialization and commemoration.

 All schools should have a school crisis team in place that develops the response plan and reviews it regularly. While these events are inevitably challenging, having an effective plan in place allows schools to respond quickly in a thoughtful and productive manner. While it will not take away the pain people feel about the death, it will offer the greatest likelihood of offering the support students and staff most need.

 Find out more about the specific steps schools can take at the website for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students (www.grievingstudents.org). AASA  is a member of the Coalition.

 

Death In a School Community: Four Goals for Supporting Students

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness) Permanent link

A guest post by Dr. Tom Demaria from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, who develops a number of topical articles on bereavement for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students. 

 A death in a school community has a deep impact. The loss will usually touch many individuals, students and staff alike, and often the entire school.

 It is vital that schools plan ahead to be prepared to deal with a range of possibilities involving the death of a student, teacher or other staff member. Information about the death is likely to spread quickly among students and staff. Responding rapidly and appropriately can limit rumors, misinformation and gossip.

 There are four important goals for supporting students at this time:

 1.      Normalize common experiences. Grief is personal and every individual will experience it differently. However, people who are grieving have similar types of needs. These include being acknowledged, understood and supported.

 Help students understand the range of feelings common after a death. Share ways people often express these feelings. Discuss how the feelings are likely to change in the days, weeks and months to come.

2.      Help students express and cope with their feelings. Invite questions and comments. Provide a safe, non-judgmental setting for these conversations. Classrooms and small groups offer students a chance to see how others are responding. They can share coping strategies and provide mutual support.

3.      Help students find additional resources. Many students will have a fairly straightforward reaction to the death and cope well with the grieving process. Others may have more complicated reactions. This might include students who were close to the deceased or the family, who had conflicts with the deceased, or who identify in some way with the person who died. It might also include students facing other challenges, such as a seriously ill family member, a recent death in the family, or pre-existing emotional challenges.

Talking with a counselor who has experience in bereavement can be helpful. This is especially important for any student experiencing a worsening of anxiety symptoms, depression or thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

4.     Help younger students understand concepts about death. Younger students may have more trouble understanding certain concepts about death, such as that all living things eventually die, or the fact that the person who died is no longer feeling fear or pain.

All schools should have a school crisis team in place that develops a response plan in the event of a death. Having an effective plan in place allows schools to respond to these challenging events in a thoughtful and productive manner. While it will not take away the pain people feel about the death, it will offer the greatest likelihood of offering the support students most need.
Find out more about the specific steps schools can take at the website for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students (www.grievingstudents.org). Our organization is a member of the Coalition.

 The Coalition to Support Grieving Students was convened by the New York Life Foundation, a pioneering advocate for the cause of childhood bereavement, and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, which is led by pediatrician and childhood bereavement expert David J. Schonfeld, M.D. The Coalition has worked with Scholastic Inc., a long-standing supporter of teachers and kids, to create grievingstudents.org a groundbreaking, practitioner-oriented website designed to provide educators with the information, insights, and practical advice they need to better understand and meet the needs of the millions of grieving kids in America’s classrooms.