Superintendent Presents on Focus on Students' Emotional and Psychological Health
At the October Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Michael Nitti presented to the Board and public on the district’s initiatives and efforts to promote emotionally and psychologically healthy students.
Since September of 2017, the district’s Post-Secondary Task Force has focused on the social-emotional wellness of Ewing’s students. A group of stakeholders with relevance and expertise have met throughout the year to talk about issues impacting student’s mental health. The task force has read scholarly and media articles devoted to the topic, and had presentations from staff members on related topics. Focus has included the impact of educational practices on student anxiety and stress, and an examination of programs that the district offers that promote emotionally healthy children.
From this group’s efforts, a number of positive events and experiences have evolved. Perhaps most noteworthy, Ewing is a leader in a countywide initiative focused on teen suicide prevention and adolescent wellness. This work included a presentation on teen suicide awareness at Rider University in early 2018 attended by hundreds of community members from across Mercer County.
During his presentation, Nitti touched on a variety of educational practices and professional development endeavors that promote healthy children and reduces anxiety and stress. These included classroom approaches like Mindfulness, Yoga for Classroom, Yoga for Adolescents, Sheltered Instruction Practice for ELLs, Traumatic Sensitive Discipline and Executive Functioning as well as various professional development workshops. The district has also increased its Opioid Awareness training through seminars, its partnership with the ASSYST Program, and by bringing in the Mercer County Prosecutors to speak to students.
Nitti also shared that the district has added new staff to address student wellness issues, including new guidance counselors at Antheil and EHS, a new Dean of Students at the O’Brien Academy and new School Security Coordinators at EHS and Antheil.
“While we always have to navigate mandates, our main focus is always our mission, and the most important part of that mission is helping develop resilient, mentally-healthy young adults,” Nitti remarked during his presentation.