BCS Advantage Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 4

Constructing Compassionate Foundations By Dr. Tony Baldwin, BCS Superintendent I f there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years as a school administrator, it’s this: Growing up is challenging for every child. Students are constantly balancing varying degrees of stress in the forms of loss, illness, heartbreak, nutrition, financial problems, family instability, and personal relationships. You name it and a child here in WNC is struggling to deal with it right now. As parents, we work hard to raise our children to be thoughtful and considerate; yet as educators we know students will not always make appropriate decisions in reacting to certain situations. With this as our motivation, Buncombe County Schools has been integrating foundational supports to help our students effectively deal with adversity. Under the leadership of Student Services Director David Thompson, BCS has successfully implemented a framework of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). School counselors and social workers throughout the system have worked with teachers and administrators to enhance their abilities to proactively recognize good behaviors from students rather than a reactive response to negative actions. I am pleased to report the result of these efforts has been a reduction of discipline issues in our schools. on building resiliency and trauma sensitive support. You may not know that student mental and emotional health is frequently cited when school staff are asked about what factors impact school climate and student learning. The Compassionate Schools Initiative from Washington State University was selected as our training model to carry out the grant’s focus. Likewise, community partner agencies are assisting to provide professional support. Behind this initiative is considerable research regarding changes in brain chemistry that occur as a result of chronic stress or trauma. Furthermore, the research suggests that children with backgrounds of chronic stress have the tendency to respond to “threatening” situations through a flight, fright, or freeze response. Helping students develop resilience to better cope with future encounters of stress or trauma is at the heart of the Compassionate Schools Initiative. Actively teaching social and emotional skills represents improved learning and academic performance. I am extremely proud of our approaches to learning and growing in the best interests of our students, families, schools, and school communities. Building resiliency in our students Recently, BCS received a comprehensive school through compassionate support and emphasizing counseling grant through the U.S. Department of the power of positive behavior recognition are Education. The grant’s purpose is to address the two initiatives that distinguish BCS and our social/emotional needs of students by focusing community partnerships in these efforts. 3