Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Willow River School aims to address mental health issues

 

August 29, 2019



At the regular meeting of the Willow River School Board on August 20, High School Principal Gregg Campbell informed the board of efforts the school is making to address mental health issues. As part of that goal, a Pine County social worker will be available in the school two days a week, all day, to help address matters as they come up. There will also be a mental health specialist in the school once a week to help teachers specifically working with students dealing with trauma and/or mental health issues.

“I think it will help overall with our mental health stuff, with attendance, and being able to connect with parents and families,” said Principal Campbell.

Many teachers and staff also attended a half-day session of “Implicit Bias and Equity training,” which teaches how to identify unconscious or ingrained biases to help combat negative stereotypes, snap judgments, and elitist behaviors.

“That ties into the social-emotional learning piece and Restorative Practices piece,” said Principal Campbell. “Just continuing that staff development towards building relationships in the school and being better educators.”

The training was optional but they had 28 staff attend. “We had teachers, paras, school counselors, school nurse, food service, supervisors, administrators. We had a real good cross-section. We also had some people from other schools that knew we were hosting it and came to see if it was something they could bring to their school.”

The Cell Phone Use Policy (#535) was revised to ban personal electronic devices (cell phones and smart watches) at the elementary level. Such devices will still be allowed for high school students as long as they abide by the use policy.

Superintendent Bill Peel said they had been busy interviewing candidates to fill positions due to three staff resigning: Amanda Bergerson (Early Childhood Paraprofessional), Jessica Youngberg (Title I Paraprofessional), and Bobbi Dressel (Elementary Administrative Assistant and Community Education Coordinator).

The service learning requirement for graduation has been changed in response to the survey completed earlier in the year. Students in either 11th or 12th grade will need to complete at least 25 hours of volunteer work as part of the Service Learning/Senior Strategies course. While there will be opportunities to volunteer within the school, they would like to see more students involved in the community itself to complete the required hours.

In other business, a number of repair and replacement projects have been completed around the school. New cafeteria tables are on their way and the old ones have already been removed. The playground equipment has been cemented in and is awaiting mulch to cover the ground.

The board accepted the following donations: $50 from Pam Larson for the playground, $50 from Pine County Fair donations for NHS, and anonymous donations totaling $1,041 for NHS.

The board thanked the teachers and staff that made summer school possible, Ryan Prachar for his time working on the playground, Laura Carlson for donating an item for the fall drawing, and all those that worked on the football sheds. Principal Campbell also wanted to thank everyone who helped with the Ragnar relay and the special education teachers for coming in during the summer to make sure they are on track for the upcoming year.

The next regular board meeting will be on September 17 at 6 p.m.

 

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