Superintendent’s Update

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Anxiety affects nearly one third of both children and adults according to the National Institute of Mental Health. What is anxiety? How does anxiety manifest itself in children? What can families do to help their children? Dr. Barbara Rickler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, will address these questions in her presentation, “A Parent’s Guide to Your Child’s Anxiety and School Resistance” on Monday March 19, 2018 from 9:00am -1:00pm in the Suffield Middle School Auditorium. We invite all families and interested community members to attend.

While student achievement is the primary goal of schools, ocial-emotional health is equally important for success in life. One of the Suffield Public Schools’ priority strategies in our District Improvement Plan is to strengthen social-emotional wellness/character development programming. What does this look like in action?

We strive to increase faculty awareness of students’ social-emotional eeds. Over the past two years nearly all of our elementary teachers have been trained in Responsive Classroom and they continue to learn more about how to respond to children’s feelings and behaviors. Teachers learn how to incorporate social-emotional learning throughout the school day.

Our elementary schools’ psychologists, Bari DeMichele and Erica Burke, and our middle school psychologist, Theresa Sweeney, review student screening information compiled from the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment, a nationally normed behavior rating scale designed to assess social-emotional competencies. Psychologists and counselors seek to address student needs and provide life coping strategies through school counseling groups, classroom lessons, and individual counseling.

At Suffield Middle School, the Wingman program, led by students and guided by teachers, builds leadership and inclusive communities that build relationships and provide support networks.

At Suffield High School, our school counselors are blocking more time in their schedules for increased individual counseling and student groups focused on topics such as (1) leadership and (2) girls and social media. The two school psychologists at Suffield High School, Kelli Conroy and Jake Friedman, have worked together to provide information to students in the area of social-emotional learning by collaborating with Life Education teacher, Eric Senger, to deliver lessons to classes throughout the school year. The discussions with students cover a wide range of topics including depression, grit, positive psychology, stress management, and emotional well-being. Their ultimate goal is to not only educate students on the topics presented, but also to connect with more students and be identified as resources in the school building.

Our schools do not have the resources to provide therapeutic mental health services, however these are a few of the many ways our schools provide social-emotional learning and supports.

If you are concerned about your child’s social-emotional wellness, reach out to your child’s school for advice and we encourage you to attend Dr. Rickler’s presentation on March 19.

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