February 14, 2020
We reach the break with gratitude for what community brings to us. The past two weeks brought a sense of togetherness that I have heard in ongoing conversations, ideas, and acts of support to one another. This, undoubtedly, strengthens us in good times and bad.
The upcoming week will be one of travel, joy, respite, and relaxation. Sometimes, though, the change in routine is hard and support does not seem as readily available if needed. We wanted to be sure that support was accessible throughout the upcoming week.
Riverside Trauma Center recommends two primary options in the community in addition to your own private providers. They are:
24 hour emergency and crisis support
Eliot Center, Concord
(978) 369-1113 ask for intake
Enjoy the time with family and friends. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
CMS Building Project Public Forum — February 27, 7:00 PM
Share your voice in the design process of Concord’s future middle school building!
The CMS Building Committee will host its next Public Forum on Thursday, February 27 at 7:00pm in the Peabody Forum. Representatives from the Building Committee and design team SMMA|EwingCole will share highlights of recent site visits, present an overview of the educational visioning and programming work completed to-date, describe next steps, collect further feedback on vision and direction, and answer questions.
The middle school building project is currently in the Feasibility Study phase, which will last through the end of February and lead into the Schematic Design phase as of March. The Building Committee plans to narrow down design concepts by spring and bring the project to a Special Town Meeting for funding approval this fall. This Public Forum is the best opportunity for residents to share thoughts on elements and attributes of the building design early in the process.
For questions, or to share input if you are unable to attend the Forum, please email the Middle School Building Committee at MSBC@concordps.org.
The forum will also be recorded by Minuteman Media Network and posted on the Building Committee web page: https://www.concordps.org/cms-building-project/
Thank you, and we hope to see you there!
What: A Chance to Share your Input in the Design of Concord’s New Middle School Building
When: Thursday, February 27, 7:00pm
Where: Concord Middle School Peabody Building, in “The Forum”
February 6, 2020
I wanted to provide additional information about the session on Monday, February 10 at 7 p.m. in the CCHS Learning Commons. Nanci Ginty Butler, LICSW from Riverside Trauma Center will join us in a discussion of how to support children in response to suicide. Her biography is found below. Members of the CCHS Administration and Guidance Department will also contribute to the discussion. This is an adult event meant to help parents support children. Of course, please reach out to the administrators and counselors for immediate needs at any time.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
Nanci Ginty Butler, LICSW
Senior Clinician – Coordinator for Program Development
Nanci is a seasoned clinician and trainer with 20 years of experience. Her specialties include adolescent mental health; family systems; school-based programming, community-based psychotherapy; program analysis, development, and management; and suicide postvention. She has been a Trauma Responder at Riverside Trauma Center for broad-scale events like the Boston Marathon bombing, and for more localized events such as suicides and other sudden losses in schools and communities. At Riverside Trauma Center, Nanci conducts trainings and is responsible for program development and trauma responses. She holds a specialty certificate in family therapy, is a Certified Instructor for QPR Gatekeeper Course for Suicide Prevention, a Certified Instructor in Youth Mental Health First Aid, and a Certified Trainer for the Signs of Suicide school-based prevention curriculum. She is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter and is President Emerita of Boston University School of Social Work Alumni Association.
February 3, 2020
In the days following the tragic loss of a student in our school community, we want to continue to provide you resources and opportunities relative to suicide prevention and support. It is also seemed very important to share an overview of the districts’ belief that the mental health of our students is in crisis and our efforts to respond.
Community Meeting- Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at CCHS
The schools will be hosting a meeting for parents and others in the community on Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at Concord Carlisle High School in the Learning Commons. Members of the Riverside Trauma Center’s team and other school and local providers will be present to provide information about common reactions following a suicide and how adults can help youth cope. They will also provide information about suicide and mental illness in adolescents, including risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and will address attendees’ questions and concerns.
Attached are additional resources to support you and your children regarding self-care and relationships after loss. A third resource is found linked below from the Alliance of Hope: https://allianceofhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Children-Teens-and-Suicide_loss.pdf
The school-based counselors and staff are valued resources for you and your family. Ongoing monitoring following a suicide in the community is critical to the safety of all children. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the guidance and adjustment counselors in the schools.
Our Growing Concern and Our Approach
Stress and the mental health of our youth have been a growing concern. This concern has grown to such a critical level that it is a core initiative in the five-year strategic plan (Objective #2 of 4: “Establish and commit to ensuring student achievement through student well being”). Among the messages sent to date was my parent newsletter in October describing our level of commitment and concern: https://www.concordps.org/mental-health-youth/
Our concerns stem from ongoing data indicating a high level of need. Below is information on this concern as self-reported by our grade six through twelve students in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2018.
- Many students report behaviors related to significant stress:
- 14% have injured themselves on purpose in the past year
- 22% have felt so sad or hopeless almost every day that they stopped doing usual activities
- 12% have seriously considered suicide at some point in the past year (highest in 10thgrade at 15%)
- 7% have made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the past year
- 3% said they have actually attempted suicide in the past year
- 12% are worried about someone at school who they think is thinking about self-injury or suicide
- 16% were told by a peer that the peer was thinking about self-injury or suicide
Below are the initiatives currently underway to decrease the school-related stress that students feel and to support our students in order to better cope with stress and foster well-being:
At each of our school sites, students and families have access to counselors and psychologists. These professionals support students through running lunch groups, providing support to classroom teachers, and coordinating with pediatricians and outside therapists.
All of our mental health professionals actively work together to coordinate efforts on the PreK – 12 Mental Health Team.
During the 2017-2018 school year, a PreK – 12 group of teachers and administrators worked together on the Health Committee to improve and expand our curriculum. Direct lessons on self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental health self-care, peer interactions, and positive decision making are delivered through PreK – 12 health classes and through our social-emotional curriculum (Open Circle at the elementary level, Homebase at the middle school level, and Advisory at the high school level).
At each school site, students have opportunities to learn a variety of coping strategies to develop mindfulness and manage technology use and stress.
Concord Middle School and Concord High School have begun to administer a social-emotional screening assessment (PEAR) to determine if individual students need support.
The Signs of Suicide screener will continue to be administered to all students at Concord Middle School.
Major efforts have been made to ease student transitions: from one school to another and one town to another. At Concord Middle School last school year, all the sixth graders began going to the Peabody building where the program of studies now includes a class, “Fundamentals,” to smooth the transition to middle school. Better coordination is occurring between Carlisle grade 8 families and Concord Carlisle High School. Finally, plans are well on the way to smooth the transition to high school for the current 8th graders; this new structure and classes are called, “The Ninth Grade Academy”.
Concord Middle School and Concord Carlisle have both engaged with Challenge Success over the last five years. Committees at both schools have put into place: homework-free weekends, coordination of exam schedules so that students don’t have too many at a time; and, review of the school schedules to allow for an improved pace to the school day. CCHS Principal Mastrullo’s blog of a year ago offers addition highlights.
We fully recognize that we are at the beginning of this journey and the need to partner with families and the community in these efforts. Please join us in this important journey.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
Practicing Self-Care After Traumatic Events.pdf