Friday, January 20, 2017

One Caring Adult

This week’s entry comes from Brooke Lawson, Mental Health Coordinator for Hamilton Southeastern Schools.  It serves as both an introduction to her and her work in our district and as reminder that we all have roles in helping students succeed.  Our work is about educating the whole child.

From Brooke: Take Every Opportunity

HSE is one of the few districts
in the state that has a
Mental Health Coordinator.
When Phil asked me to share something with you in the Teaching and Learning blog I wasn’t sure what I should write.  As a newbie to the district—I’ve been here about three months—I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of this opportunity.

First, an introduction might be in order.  I am the Mental Health Coordinator for the district, a position that most districts are lacking.  I’m a licensed clinical social worker, and most of my experience is in school-based mental health. 

As the title implies, my role in the district is to help coordinate mental health services for all of our students.  For example, you’ll be hearing more about a new partnership with Community Health Network in the coming months. 

Even though I spend my time thinking about mental health, the goal for everyone in the district is help students learn to the best of their abilities.  I have no doubt that mental health has a major impact on a student’s ability to learn and on a teacher’s ability to teach students.  As are result, every adult employed by HSE Schools can influence the lives of the children we teach.

The children in our classrooms do face many challenges.  They live in a busy, fast-paced world and can feel overwhelmed and overlooked.  Fortunately, each and every one of us can make a positive impact on the lives of students in our schools.  If you want to see what this might look like, click on the link below and take a few minutes to watch “Every Opportunity.”

I first saw this video in a training, and it left a lasting impression.  It provides a strong reminder of our influence as educators.  Research supports what is shown in the video and what we know in our hearts to be true.  In March 2015, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child released a study which stated:

Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.” 

I know that students who are struggling emotionally can be some of the hardest to teach and reach, but how exciting to know that each one of us has the ability to help a child flourish and become a responsible and productive adult just by being very intentional about the interactions we have with him or her each day. 

These interactions don’t have to be huge.  Simple things go a long way toward creating a caring and supportive relationship with students:
  • Greet your students by name each morning.
  • Get to know your students personally.
  • When behavior needs correcting, do it quietly, not in front of the whole class.
  • Catch students making the right choice and praise them for it!
  • Listen to what your students have to say, and find time for individual conversations.

Everyone is busy, and it is so easy to forget how important our daily interactions with students are.  It is good to be reminded of all of the opportunities we are given each day to have a positive impact on the lives of the students in our buildings. 

Respond to Brooke at

Have a great week, HSE.  Feel free to contact Brooke directly if you have questions or could use her input.  She is here to help you help your students.

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

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