by Eric Dool, Director of Student Services
West Clermont Schools
The social-emotional wellness of our staff and students is critical to school safety. The ever-evolving change in routine and social isolation brought on by the pandemic has only increased the amount of support needed in this area. We are proud of the strides we have made over the past two years to improve both physical and mental wellness so students can fully engage in learning.
It all starts with the Whole Child framework, which guides what we teach, how we provide services - prevention and intervention - and the partnerships we develop within our community. To achieve this framework, and ultimately growth for all, schools must address the following.
First, systemic practices, which focus on continuous improvement and the coordination of policies and processes, ensure students can thrive in an equitable and culturally responsive setting.
Second, we must develop health support systems, inside and outside of the classroom. This includes teaching and reinforcing healthy behaviors through physical and health education, and fostering good decision-making skills that benefit students’ social and emotional well-being in the long term; providing direct services to students and families; involving families and the community in our student’s educational journey; and providing a physically safe and supportive school environment with modern tools and a culture that is conducive to every child being able to reach their full potential.
Third, family and community partnerships are a key component to challenging, preparing and empowering our students.
West Clermont has a strong foundation of social-emotional support for staff and students. Programs and processes include a robust physical education curriculum in addition to extracurricular activities that keep our community active. The district also offers social-emotional learning opportunities through evidence-based modules including Caring School Community, Zones of Regulation, Signs of Suicide, Link Crew, and Where Everyone Belongs (WEB). Direct services consist of the Wolves Wellness Center, a school-based health center, and access to behavioral health support through a partnership with Child Focus. We provide a safe and secure school environment thanks to our School Resource Officers, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), various training for staff, assessments, and an anonymous tip line.
Recognizing that there is an unprecedented need in our community, West Clermont is dedicated to building on its current initiatives. We are seeking additional partnerships and funding. Recently, the district was awarded a grant through Clermont County Jobs & Family First to support our Hope Squads, and several mini grants through the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board to support our PBIS efforts. Additionally, the district has secured two Resource Coordinators through the Clermont County Educational Service Center. Finally, the district has submitted a grant proposal to the Department of Justice/Bureau of Judicial Affairs through its STOP School Violence Program that, if awarded, will allow the district access to three additional mental health therapists through Child Focus. Combined with other partnerships to support before and after school care and tutoring, the district is following through on its promise to strengthen student engagement which results in reduced absenteeism and other behavioral and mental health supports.
The work before us is extensive. As is our mission, we will continue to commit to excellence with every learner, every day, every way to ensure wellness.