As you may be aware, the levels of childhood anxiety and mental health needs have dramatically increased in recent years – so much so that former NH Supreme Court Justice John Broderick is campaigning with NH Education Commissioner Frank Edelbrud to raise awareness of this concern, which some have categorized as an epidemic in schools. With the mental health system stretched to its limit and more and more of the responsibility for mental health services falling to schools, thanks to a generous gift from the Lyme Foundation, we will be increasing the time which students have access to our school counselor.
However, the focus of our approach is not simply a reactive one. In our search process we sought candidates who possessed a strong background in experiential learning, a proven history of being able to relate both to young children and Middle School aged Children, as well as training and degrees that would help students and families through difficult period of development, anxiety, trauma and depression. We were amazingly fortunate to find Rachel Stanton, our student life coordinator or school counselor. Much of Rachel's time will be devoted to proactive work, helping student learn conflict resolution strategies, decision making, communicating and self advocating. This work will be conducted weekly in K-5 guidance classes and with middle school students in Health class, the Advisory program and Guidance classes which are new to the middle school.
This work will also focus on Digital Wellness, which, with the rise of smart phones, social media, and the internet, has introduced a world which poses new challenges to mental wellness and decisions that may impact our student in way neither they nor their parents are aware of.
For the last 12 years since I have been a part of the Lyme School, and likely long before that, we have committed ourselves to the balance of educating the hearts, hands and minds of our students. Our efforts to support a child's heart -- their emotional wellbeing and mental health- is critically important if we are to be successful educating their hands and minds. With the addition of Rachel and the time that will allow her to gain audience with the middle schoolers, we are better situated to meet the growing needs and challenges of our modern world.
I am excited for everyone to meet Mrs. Stanton, as our students explained following her time with them during her interview, "She is awesome!!". They could not have said it better.