Excellent presentation at the MASC conference by Judith Styer, Director of Health and Wellness in Framingham and Andrew Keough, Easton Supt. (and former Principal, Wellesley High School) on a topic that Melrose is recognizing and addressing.
*Adults don’t necessarily understand student stresses because some aren’t familiar to us
*Stressors can be academic, economic, social (including LGBTQ students), family, community integration (e.g. for students coming from a foreign country), and health-related (e.g. obesity, chronic conditions like asthma, mental health)
*Girls tend to be more stressed than boys
*Most school shootings are really suicides with other students involved
*One of the biggest risk factors academically is for students who have no health insurance
*Not all stress is bad – finding the right level is important as is having candid conversations around college expectations and intentions
*Healthy and happy kids are productive kids
*Framingham looked at student results using the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data over time to assess trends, implemented a Tiered System of Support to help reduce stress, and formed a task force that included parents and students. They held forums and explored how to engage all families, how to begin a cultural shift away from intense academic pressure on children, and how to carve out time to educate teachers and administrators on the importance and value of social/emotional health
*Wellesley formed a Culture and Climate Committee with key stakeholders that included four subcommittees (Social Issues, Support Systems, Academics, and Community). They held panels and conducted a survey. Successful initiatives included creating a safe place for students to relax; implementing an adult mentoring program; developing a free, student drop-in enrichment/recreational program; made changes to the homework policy (to implement stress-free periods during the year); revisited and improved freshman orientation; developed a GPA Committee and held PD related to assessment; and held parent trainings on resiliency development (including understanding the impact of 24 hr/day scheduling of children and recognizing signs of social/emotional stress in elementary school students). Supt. Keough referenced the movie Race to Nowhere and two Psychology Today articles: “The Problem with Rich Kids” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201310/the-problem-rich-kids) and “A Nation of Wimps” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200411/nation-wimps).