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Mental health matters: New staff and programs to support students

September 16, 2019

Students participate in a circle as part of the Open Circle program.The district’s continual focus on the mental health needs of students and staff is reflected in several new staff members and curriculum offerings for the 2019-20 school year. This year, the Mental Health Task Force is expected to work on staff wellness offerings and professional development for faculty and staff on the topic of trauma-informed instruction and care.

Elementary Social Workers

Two new elementary social workers were hired this summer, which ensures that every elementary school has one full-time social worker.  Several years ago the district added two elementary social workers to its staff, but since then the demand for additional support at the building levels has risen.

These social workers ensure consistent support for elementary students and families. In addition to four elementary social workers, the district employs two additional social workers that support special education students.

Open Circle

In response to New York state requirements for mental health education, the district is beginning a pilot of the social-emotional learning program Open Circle in all four elementary schools.

This summer, 14 staff members, including 12 teachers, a social worker and a principal, attended training for the program at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Current physical education teacher Anthony Kenney will be working as the district’s lead trainer for Open Circle.

“This program is tied to the restorative justice work we’ve implemented at the middle and high schools,” said Assistant Superintendent Tim Dawkins. “Our district’s commitment to ensuring this is a positive place to learn and work is unwavering and we believe a comprehensive,
consistent social-emotional curriculum beginning at the elementary level underscores this commitment.”

Open Circle aims to:

  • Proactively develop children’s skills for recognizing and managing emotions, empathy, positive relationships and problem solving; and
  • Help schools develop a community where students feel safe, cared for and engaged in learning.

Saratoga Center for the Family

South Glens Falls CSD now has two counselors through the Saratoga Center for the Family. These counselors see students and families for therapy and support as needed. If you’re interested in learning more about this service, reach out to your child’s school principal.

Category: Ballard News, District News, Harrison Ave News, Moreau News, SGFalls HS News, Tanglewood News, Winch MS News