GREENVILLE- How do I take care of myself? Why are people always angry with me? Why are goals important? How can I better understand my thoughts and feelings? How can I keep myself safe? These are questions we all have. Life can be confusing and overwhelming.
Children need to be taught how to regulate emotions, answer these questions, and connect with others. Middle School is a difficult season in life, but with the right help, guidance, and instruction in social and emotional development, it can be one of the best times.
To achieve the mission and vision of education, it is important to teach children the skills needed to be successful adults with academic, social, and emotional (SEL) skills. Academic and SEL skills are connected and allow children to become the adults needed for a productive society. It is in the best interest of our community and country to continue to develop these skills in our children.
Greenville City Schools has as its third guiding principle; “Greenville City Schools partners with stakeholders to provide support, programs, and information to meet the social and emotional needs of students and families.”
This principle is also supported by the state of Ohio, which has integrated social-emotional learning standards into the curriculum across all grade levels.
https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Social-and-Emotional-Learning To assist children in navigating the difficult contemporary issues they face, the state has passed laws for suicide prevention, violence prevention, social inclusion, and school safety requirements in grades 6-12. https://ohioschoolsafetycenter.ohio.gov/static/2023-School-Safety-Comprehensive-Guide.pdf
At Greenville Middle School, we take this commitment to our students’ safety and well-being very seriously. We have weekly Social Emotional lessons facilitated by Camfel Productions resources. (Camfel.com) Parents are welcome to access and preview these online resources as well.
This year, we have also included specific lessons targeted to grades 6-8 on Suicide and Violence prevention and awareness, social inclusion, child abuse awareness, and internet safety lessons in grades 5-8. Our counselors, social studies teachers, and the school resource officer provided the instruction with state-approved resources
At GMS, we work diligently to meet the SEL needs of our students. We would like to highlight a couple of opportunities that have been provided this year.
Mr. Levek, the 6th grade Social Studies teacher, taught Suicide Awareness and Prevention to his classes using the Say Something resource provided by the Sandy Hook Learning Center. https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/say-something-tips/.
Mrs. Guillozet, our 5th and 6th grade counselor, along with Officer Borowske, the School Resource Officer, utilized the Fight Child Abuse resources to provide instruction on Sex Abuse and Violence Awareness and Prevention. https://fightchildabuse.org/
Mr Levek shared that the students learned to “Identify Threats and Warning signs/Act Immediately and Seriously/Say Something to a trusted adult”. As social isolation was addressed in the lessons, Mr. Levek identified one benefit for the students is to “be able to identify that everyone struggles. You are not alone in this. Everyone needs help.” He was able to see a timely result from the lessons by, “an immediate uptick in the use of the school counselor.”
Additional students’ takeaways from the lessons included, “Most of the students latched on to what a trusted adult was. Who to talk to and how. What calling 911 was and was used for. Many reported knowing people who struggled and needed help in their lives.”
Lauren Schmidt, a 6th grader, reinforced, “I know now to always look for a trusted adult.”
We are lucky to partner with the Greenville Police Department with the placement of School Resource Officers in the K-8 Facility and the High School. Officer Borowske works closely with our school counselors to provide instruction on School Safety Issues. He believes there is a tremendous benefit to his being included in these lessons.
He stated, “As an SRO, I often meet with students along with the counselor regarding suicide and other non-criminal issues. I use my experiences from dealing with mental health incidents to help students get the right information, and their parents get in contact with the right resources for mental health. Violence prevention and school safety are top priorities. Teaching students how to de-escalate situations is a main skill that police officers use every day in Law Enforcement. Teaching students to de-escalate their own situations is important.”
Mrs. Guillozet reinforced, “We can’t stress enough the importance of this developmentally appropriate information to help protect your children. I encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the Fight Child Abuse resources. The school staff’s approach is on prevention with age-appropriate instruction to ensure health and safety for the children of the Greenville community.”
These sentiments were reinforced by Officer Borowske, “Helping students identify and recognize situations of sex abuse or violence is very important because most incidents of sex abuse or violence do not happen at school but are most likely reported at school. Making students aware of signs of abuse could also help the student recognize if another student is being abused.”
6th grader Grant Fitzgerald learned, “It’s okay to speak up for yourself and have boundaries with people.”
Our approach at GMS is about prevention, awareness, and support.
We would like parents to help their children develop healthy relationships. “Define, model, and give good examples of what a healthy relationship is. Explain to your child what an unhealthy relationship is. Helping the child define boundaries in a healthy relationship is important as well.” this is the advice provided by Officer Borowske.
At the conclusion of our highlighted instructional opportunities, all three adults concluded that the students could articulate what a trusted adult was, what 911 was used for, and who to go to for help. These students have been given the opportunity to begin to answer the life questions we all struggle with, along with resources to be aware and preventative for their safety and social-emotional empowerment.
Admin Art 1.8.24; Rhonda Schaar