Dr. John Sample, MAPS Superintendent
As a result of the Community Conversation, our district staff recently viewed Paper Tigers as Part Two of the trauma sensitive training we are providing. During Part One, we learned about the study of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the potential for negative impact as when students reach adulthood. Both of these trainings enable us to understand and address the way students respond to events throughout the school day as a result of their response to their own adverse childhood experiences.
Paper Tigers is a film documenting the lives of staff and students of Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington. Students at this high school had behavioral issues, as well as poor academic performances, and were usually suspended from school. After discovering the studies on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the high school changed its approach to handling the students with kindness and in-school suspension versus automatic punitive punishments.
Community Conversation participants and representatives from outside agencies were invited to this afternoon, which consisted of the showing of the documentary followed by a panel discussion. The panel was comprised of Joe Mertens, MAPS Psychologist; Trina Knospe, MAPS Counselor; Mark Heckendorf, MAPS School Resource Officer; Dr. Gabby Hangiandreou, Child Psychiatrist at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wausau; and, Evelyn Lee, Counselor at the Centre for Well-Being. Ryan Martinovici asked questions of the panel as provided by members of the audience.
Part Three of our trauma informed training will include Resilience Training. Students struggle when their resiliency is low. The training will provide teachers and staff with strategies to increase student resilience. Students will be able to:
Learn to trust, confide, be liked and loved
Learn to respect themselves and others
Learn to be responsible for their actions
Learn that others were proud of their academic achievements
It is important for all of us to understand why children behave as they do. Whether in the classroom or in the home environment, we can all benefit from positive strategies designed to modify a student’s noncompliant behavior. Jefferson Elementary School Principal, Mr. Becker, recently outlined a few of those important reminders recently in an email to staff. These strategies are valuable for teachers and parents when modifying noncompliant behavior.
Don’t take it personally/get emotional. If you are mad, they can tell. If you are emotional, wait. Count to ten. Give them a break as you take one yourself!
Don’t assume and accuse. We can ONLY recount a behavior. We can’t assume why, nor should we accuse students of the reasoning behind the behavior. Instead, ASK WHY. You will be surprised at the answers.
Don’t argue. You won’t win, so why try? It isn’t a battle until YOU turn it into one. You simply can’t argue if you just stick to the facts.
Do remain calm. This is tough. But you MUST. A battle of wills has never been won with a student. Never. Ever.
Ask what is wrong. Is everything okay? You will be shocked at the reasons some students refuse to comply. It is often much simpler to solve than you think.
Explain what is happening. Give them the reason why you are asking for compliance. Knowing helps them justify what they are doing when they do comply.
In other news, our District Report Card was recently published. I am pleased to report that our district continues to meet the state requirements.
Other important district facts related to Academic and Career Planning (ACP):
Our district has received over $100,000 in Career Technical Education Grants (Carl Perkins, CTE Incentive, Youth Apprenticeship and dual credit grants)
MAPS has the largest Youth Apprenticeship and Co-Op satellite program in Wisconsin
Merrill High School and the Merrill Fire Department have partnered to offer a Fire/EMS academy which currently has 11 juniors and seniors engaged in hands-on exploration activities
Finally, it is the season of giving and thanks. As the lead educator, I am thankful to our community for the contributions of time and resources provided to our students. As a district, Merrill Area Public Schools thrives from the support we receive from individuals and through our partnerships. We value the relationships we have in the community and greatly appreciate the support we receive. It is also important to remember that our teachers and staff also provide support beyond their professional responsibilities as members of this great community. Thank you all!