By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The Howard-Suamico School District has received a grant of more than $338,000 to support mental health and school safety.
“When we applied for it we were very hopeful it would come in, because we are going to use these funds to support our multi-level of support initiative,” said Jennifer Garceau, HSSD director of student services.
The grant was the second round of the Wisconsin School Safety Initiative from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
In the first round, HSSD received a grant for more than $189,000 for school safety and security.
“Learners are coming to us with different needs, therefore we need to be prepared to meet learners where they’re at,” Garceau said. “When learners are coming to us with different needs we need to make sure we have the tools in place to reach them.”
A number of programs and trainings will be funded due to the second round of the grant.
Garceau said these programs will allow the district to support students socially and emotionally.
One area is Trauma Sensitive Schools, where HSSD will train some staff members, who will in turn go and train the rest of the staff in the district, from food service workers to administrators.
Garceau called the undertaking a “perspective change,” as all staff will be able to approach students’ situations from a different angle then previously.
The DOJ Adolescent Mental Health training is a requirement of the grant.
HSSD will send some student services staff to training and those employees will in turn share what they learned.
The Supportive Schools Community Institute will allow some HSSD staff the opportunity to attend a two-day event in Madison over the summer to share ideas with others and network with other schools’ officials.
Building the Heart of Successful Schools will allow counselors to learn how to strengthen the district’s universal social and emotional curriculum.
“We know that talking with our teachers and looking at our data, we need to incorporate universal curriculum for social and emotional wellness in our schools,” Garceau said. “This year we’re going to see what that looks like and hopefully implement the curriculum next year.”
Part of the grant will also allow the district to partner with Sandy Hook Promise for the Signs of Suicide program.
Garceau said the partnership with the independent organization will allow HSSD to cover all the bases when identifying students that may be potential suicide risks.
Finally, the grant will allow for Multi-Level Systems of Support consultations and trainings.
Currently at four HSSD schools, outside organizations work onsite with students.
Garceau is hopeful that number can grow and more students can be helped.
“Hopefully we can identify any students in need of additional support and we will be able to provide that support when a student is in need,” she said.
Garceau said the grant is changing the way the district addresses social and emotional learning.
“It’s changing the way we do our work,” she said. “It’s changing the way we approach students, what are they coming to us with, and what strategies can we do to make sure we’re meeting students where they’re at and they’re successful.”