Social and Emotional Wellness Programming
Student Assistance Specialists provide services to student to help them in a variety of ways. Building a positive school climate where students feel physically and emotionally safe and respected as a member of their school community is the main focus of the Student Assistance Program. Research shows that when students feel connected in their school environent they are more likely to succeed academically and avoid risky behaviors.
Please see below some of components of the Student Assistance Program geared towards social and emotional wellness. If you would like more information, please feel free to reach out to your child's Student Assistance Specialist.
Click here to see our Supervisor of Student Services, Danielle Blalock's, presentation from March 1, 2018 that outline many of the programs and clubs that we offer that promote tolerance and well-being.
Sources of Strength
The mission of SOS is to provide the highest quality evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength. The believe is that many strengths are more powerful than one, and our united goal is to activate and mobilize these strengths in ways that positively change individuals and communities.
SOS is in its 4th year of inception at Churchill and EBHS, and is in the process of being rolled out to HMS Winter 2018!
Mentoring is a relationship between a trusted adult in the building and a student. The mentor is a role model, a guide in their development, and a stable reliable person in their life. Studies show that kids who feel connected to members of the school community are more likely to feel accepted and wanted in school. Motivation increases and as a result kids tend to do better in all aspects of learning.
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop. Goals of the program include: reducing existing bullying problems among students, preventing the development of new bullying problems, and achieving better peer relations at school. The Olweus Program helps to create an environment in which students feel both physically and emotionally safe.
An integral part of the program is class meetings. These meetings are designed to get kids involved in decision making in their classrooms and schools, help build a climate of trust and respect, as well as help build positive self esteem. Class meetings are held at the elementary level on a weekly basis or more often as needed. When students feel valued and connected to their school community, more likely to succeed academically and they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
The Second Step Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Program gives students the tools to excel in and out of the classroom. Second Step is an evidence based social-emotional learning program taught in grades K-8 in our district. Units in K-5 include, skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving. Grades 6-8 cover themes including, mindsets and goals, values and friendships, thoughts, emotions, and decisions, and peer conflict. Lessons are taught through story and discussions, short video vignettes, role plays, and literature.
Positive Behavioral Supports in Schools
The ideals of PBSIS have been implemented in Irwin, Bowne-Munro, Hammarskjold and Churchill. New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in Schools (NJ PBSIS) is a collaboration between the New Jersey Department of Education Offices of Special Education and The Boggs Center, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Positive Classroom Climate is one of the essential components of PBSIS. Having a healthy and positive classroom climate is one of the most important ways to prevent the occurrence of problem behavior. Published research establishes that environmental factors have the strongest direct relationship with positive student outcomes. In particular, a number of critical classroom environment features have been linked to positive outcomes for students. Recognition of positive behaviors is another essential part of the program. Affirming students' positive behavior choices reinforces the learning process and builds a motivation momentum. Reinforcement is an essential feature of the learning process and students benefit from hearing that they made a good choice. There are two important features of a school-wide student recognition system: behavior specific praise and reward tickets. The components of PBSIS are rolled out through theses buildings Climate/Safety Teams.
Superflex is a social thinking curriculum implemented in grades K-2. The lessons are designed to provide a fun, motivating way to teach children social and behavioral flexibility and to ultimately develop better self-monitoring for their social behavior. The concept of these lessons is based on a superhero theme. Superflex, named for his flexible thinking, is a superhero with excellent problem solving skills. He can think of many different solutions to one problem. Superflex is constantly battling the “Team of Unthinkables” such as: Blurt Out Blue who may cause us to make comments when it is not our turn, Mean Jean who may get us to act mean or bossy towards others and Space Invader who makes a person’s body move into other people’s space, just to name a few. The students learn to identify what members are on their Team of Unthinkables and learn Superflex strategies to defeat them.
School Safety/Climate Teams
Since 2013, all New Jersey Public Schools are required to have School Safety/Climate Teams (SSCT). This team is co- facilitated by the Principal and the Anti-Bullying Specialist (Student Assistance Specialist). The team is comprised of a group of people who are responsible for maintaining a positive and safe school environment. The Principal selects the members of the SSCT, which must include the Principal or designee, a teacher, the school Anti-Bullying Specialist, a parent, and any other members the principal believes are important to be on the SSCT. The committee usually meets monthly and reviews any trends of HIB in their school, current HIB cases, and climate issues. They coordinate and plan activities (classroom or building based) to address patterns that they see. In addition, they organize events geared towards improving school climate. Examples of these events include assemblies and programming for Week of Respect and School Violence Prevention Week.
Counseling Services-Group and Individual
Student Assistance Specialists and School Counselors provide individual supportive counseling as well as group counseling for all students in need of support. Individual counseling typically focuses on setting social and emotional goals as well as navigating friendship and emotion regulation.
Group sessions usually run for 8-10 weeks based on the needs of the students. Groups are available to all students who wish to participate. Teachers make group recommendations based on needs they observe in the classroom environment and/or parent input. Groups include: Changing Families, Social Skills, Self-Esteem, Self- Advocacy, Anger Management, New Student, Study Skills, GASP (Gay and Straight Peers) to name a few.
Traumatic Loss Coalition
Student Assistance Specialists and School Counselors participate in the Middlesex County Traumatic Loss Coalition. The monthly meetings provide great connections to resources in the county such as Mobile Crisis, The Center for Empowerment, Counseling Agencies, and Grief Resources for children and families. The TLC is an interactive, statewide network that offers collaboration and support to professionals working with school-age youth. The dual mission of the TLC is excellence in suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following unfortunate losses due to suicide, homicide, accident and illness. This is accomplished through county, regional and statewide conferences, training, consultation, onsite traumatic loss response, and technical assistance. The purpose is to ensure that those working with youth from a variety of disciplines and programs have up-to-date knowledge about mental health issues, suicide prevention, traumatic grief, and resiliency enhancement. Since its inception, the TLC has trained thousands of individuals with the purpose of saving lives and promoting post trauma healing and resiliency for the youth of New Jersey.
Schools host a varity of assesmblies that compliment the Student Assistance goals and cuuriculum. To learn more about some of the assemblies presented throughout the district during the 2017-18 school year, please see below.
I’m More than Just That Assembly Program
This Assembly Program which is on its 6th year of inception stemmed from a group of students at the High School who wanted to give back. They felt that middle school was a time of change and figuring out where you fit in and who you are. They wanted to tell their stories of being “more” than a label or what people perceived them to be. This empowering assembly program has proved to be moving, inspirational, and uplifting, giving students that opportunity to hear from others that you can rely upon one of your Sources of Strength to come through difficult times. It encourages students to be proud of who they are and their uniqueness. A strong component of the program is the message of embracing our diversity and culture. After the assembly, HMS students are invited to come to the Student Services Office and speak to any students that they relate to. Counselors and Student Assistance Specialists are also present to process the experience with them.
Sources of Strength Assembly
EBHS students from the Sources of Strength outreach program annually visits with the 4th and/or 5th grade students at all of the elementary schools. They shared personal stories about times in their lives when they called on their sources of strength for help. Some of these sources include, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, and generosity. After their presentations, the high school students joined the elementary students in their classrooms to play a Jeopardy game focused on the various sources of strength. This program has been highly anticipated for the past four years.
Great Kindness Challenge Kick-off Assembly
The Great Kindness Challenge is a proactive and positive bullying prevention initiative that improves school climate and increases student engagement. The Great Kindness Challenge is one week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible. Each elementary school promotes this week by hosting a GKC kick-off event. The pep rally style assembly gets the school community excited for the week long events which focus on comitting kind acts both in and out of school. To learn more about this program, click here.