Celebrating Day 4 of Student Services Week!
We hope you are enjoying these Stories From the Field. Today we are featuring stores from Charlotte, Miami-Dade and Pasco County Public Schools...
Stories From the Field...
Charlotte County Public Schools
Submitted by Chantal Phillips
I would like to highlight one of our school social workers who has not only touched the lives of many students and staff in our schools but also in the Charlotte Community. Susan Flores, School Social Worker, LCSW, was recently selected by the United Way’s Women United group as a “Woman of Distinction.” What a great honor! And very deserving. Susan has been with Charlotte County Schools since 1999 and has since served all grade levels and almost every school in the district. She also serves as a “leader” in my department providing additional support to staff and taking on projects that benefit the whole district. Currently she is working on creating a google drive for attendance interventions at all three tiers that would be available to all schools. Susan is a trained Check and Connect mentor and trainer and has successfully implemented the program at her schools. In addition to her very full workload, Susan also volunteered her time over the years to bring the Girls On The Run program to Charlotte County Schools. With Susan's passion for providing opportunities for young girls to choose healthier lifestyles and her ability to lead, the program flourished and is available at all of our elementary schools and some middle schools. Susan is most definitely a “woman of distinction” and an outstanding school social worker, and she is just one example of the type of staff we have in our social work department. Charlotte County is fortunate to have such dedicated and qualified school social workers.
Stories From the Field... Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Project UP-START is Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ (M-DCPS) Homeless Education Program. Project UP-START’s mission is to ensure success in school for children and youth who have been displaced from their homes. Led by school social workers, the UP-START team works with families, students, schools, and community partners to assist students both in and out of school, last year identifying and serving over 8,000 students living in transition.
This school year, in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Project UP-START has seen an increase in the number of students who lost their homes. In the days leading up to Hurricane Irma, Project UP-START staff worked with families living on the street to ensure they were safe and to coordinate their safe arrival at a shelter. After the storm, UP-START staff members worked with the Continuum of Care in Miami-Dade County and other agencies to help those who were affected by Irma. UP-START staff visited the local Red Cross shelter to bring services to those individuals to ensure that students displaced from their homes from any school district would be able to attend school and have their needs met.
Later in September after Hurricane Maria, our District received more than 800 students arriving from Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other locations that were affected by the storm. Project UP-START staff received many referrals and worked with families who lost everything to make sure their children were not just attending school, but also that the families received the services they needed including basic needs, housing, and employment. M-DCPS continues to see many students registering in our schools who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Maria and Project UP-START staff continue to help in any way possible.
Over the holidays, Project UP-START arranged for many families to be "adopted" by our District offices. One family who lost their home in the Virgin Islands was so excited when they received their gifts, including a brand new television, they could not stop hugging staff members to show their appreciation.
Project UP-START District Staff train Homeless Liaisons at every school in the District. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is proud to have passionate and caring Student Services professionals at every school who are dedicated to helping students who have lost their permanent home succeed during a difficult time.
Values Matter Miami is the very successful and exciting values education initiative that Miami-Dade County Public Schools launched to teach and promote the District’s nine core values. This initiative aims to support schools in creating a culture where everyone is treated with respect, dignity, and kindness.
Recently our students have been exposed to many stories of hate and discrimination. Our District’s Student Services professionals have used the Values Matter Miami initiative during the 2017-2018 school year as a way to re-focus all students on the importance of empathy and tolerance. As part of this ongoing initiative school-site Student Services professionals find unique ways of promoting the nine core values in order to develop positive student behavior that supports success.
Each month the Miami-Dade County Public School’s District Student Services Team publishes a newsletter with activities and resources which focuses on one of the nine core values. The newsletters provide school site professionals with support in the promotion of the value of the month. The newsletters and other supporting documents can be found on the District’s Values Matter Miami website at http://osi.dadeschools.net/valuesmatter/ .
The District Student Services Team also created interactive Nearpod lessons for every grade level for each of the nine core values. School counselors at every level have Nearpod accounts and are using these lessons to engage students in learning about core values.
Additionally, Miami-Dade County Public School employees are asked to nominate candidates for Values Matter Miami awards each month. Each month nominations are collected for Outstanding Student, Outstanding Staff Member, Outstanding School, and Outstanding Community Support. A Values Matter Miami Awards Ceremony will once again be held in May 2018 to recognize positive individuals and schools and to celebrate behaviors that align with our nine core values.
Stories continued...Pasco County School District
Student Services Highlights
Six years ago Pasco school district faced an issue that has impacted schools across the country. The issue is bullying. At the time there was particularly negative attention in the media and community regarding the schools’ culture in the district. In response the student services division came together to examine this issue and problem solve ways to address it. One of the interventions that came from this effort was the development of an annual event called Together We Stand. Each year school administrators, school staff, students, parents, and community members join together to learn and discuss topics such as diversity, unity, resiliency, and tolerance all with the mission to create a more safe and inclusive school and community environment.
The work done at the Together We Stand event is not limited to this one day; the school teams come away with an actionable plan to implement throughout the school year. Some of the activities that have come out of this event include Unity days in the high schools, running clubs in the elementary school, no bullying pledges and much more.
The Together We Stand event has grown from about 150 participants to over 300 participants. This is an example of the proactive efforts by the Student Services division to address a difficult issue.