Hello Glen Cairn PS Families,
At Glen Cairn PS, we recognize the importance of student well-being. Research shows a correlation between mental health concerns and student success:
Mental health difficulties are a strong predictor of academic failure among youth (Kessler, Foster Saunders and Sang, 1995) and are also correlated with school absenteeism (Santor, Short and Ferguson, 2009). (OCDSB discussion paper “Towards an Ottawa Carleton District School Board Mental Health Framework”
We have high expectations for all of our students to take risks in their learning, develop a growth mindset and achieve at the highest levels possible. We believe that in order for students to push their learning to new levels, a certain amount of struggle must occur – students need to struggle with difficult concepts and apply their thinking in a variety of novel situations. This is demanding work!
OCDSB Strategic Plan Pillar “Well-Being”
A key component of our work together involves our ongoing commitment to supporting student well-being through a range of prevention and intervention measures. Our work in this area is guided by the OCDSB strategic plan, which identifies “well-being” as one of the four key pillars.
At Glen Cairn PS this means that the staff engages in ongoing professional learning to build our collective capacity to promote positive mental health for ourselves and our students. We have established many partnerships with community organizations, who work with our students to develop their skills and strategies for maintaining positive mental health. Also, we are continually revisiting our needs and seeking out appropriate opportunities to broaden our approach.
OCDSB Mental Health Framework Components
Positive Mental Health Promotion:
Below are some of the preventative measures we are taking to foster positive mental health for all students at the school:
GCPS Safe and Accepting Schools Plan (Bullying Prevention and Intervention): Our initial plan was crafted with the support of the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre (WOCRC), staff members and parents. Every year we revise our plan, taking into account feedback from our “Tell Them From Me” survey, as well as changing conditions at the school. Our Bullying Prevention Plan is posted on our website here.
Collaborative Problem Solving Approach: Most staff members at GCPS participated in a book club led by Dr. Lynda Robertson, from our OCDSB Mental Health and Critical Services department. Collaborative Problem Solving is an approach to dealing with challenging behaviours presented by students. It assumes that behaviours are manifestations of lagging skills and that identifying those skills and providing direct instruction in their development, as well as opportunities for students to apply them, will be the most effective way to change those behaviours. For more information, you may wish to visit the “Think Kids” website.
Restorative Practices Training: Adopting a restorative approach to conflicts at school allows us to build a greater sense of community when things go wrong between students. Both myself and Administrative Designate Will Maloley have completed the restorative practices training and over the next few months, the approach will be introduced to all staff and students.
“My Friends” Social and Emotional Resilience Programs: Two GCPS staff members have received training to lead the “My Friends” Social and Emotional Resilience Training for students. Staff provide the sessions to groups of students identified as requiring some additional skills and strategies in these areas. For more information on the “My Friends” program, please visit their website here.
WOCRC Healthy Dating and Relationships Presentations: By the end of this coming week, all students at GCPS will have participated in the WOCRC Healthy Dating and Relationships presentations. Students learn about what healthy relationships look like, as well as how to avoid becoming involved in unhealthy relationships and how to support friends who are experiencing unhealthy relationships.
OPS Internet Safety Presentations: Our School Resource Officer will present on internet safety for all students this coming week. The presentations will outline safe and unsafe online behaviours, as well as the potential criminal consequences of becoming involved in sexting, online harassment or cyberbullying. Constable McCormack will also present to parents and guardians on Tuesday, December 9th at 7:00 pm in the library. All are welcome.
Rideauwood Addictions Prevention Presentations: Our partnership with Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services takes a preventative approach through classroom presentations on substance abuse. Rideauwood also offers individual counselling, which is available to our students and their families. If you are interested in that service, don’t hesitate to give me a call at the school to arrange this.
“Improve with Improv” Workshops (spring 2015): This spring we will work with Jennifer Laale, who will engage students in “Improve with Improv” workshops to build resilience, character and pro social skills. Jennifer’s workshops are highly recommended and will help students build confidence and skills they need to navigate the transition to high school and the tricky social scene as they move into their teenage years.
Mental Health Interventions and Supports:
We also provide intervention supports for families:
OCDSB Psychologist and Social Worker: We work with Dr. Ligezenska, who provides psycho-educational assessment services, as well as classroom observations and liaison with external health care providers in support of our students. Our social worker, Kim Kramer, sees students for individual counselling, as well as offering support to families in navigating the services offered in the community. A referral is required for students and families to work with both of these professionals.
OCDSB Child and Youth Worker: Through referral, we have access to a team of Child and Youth Workers, who are able to visit, observe students or groups of students, and provide recommendations as to how we can best support our students experiencing difficulty.
CCAC Mental Health and Addictions Nurse: Our partnership with the Community Care Access Centre’s Mental Health and Addictions Nurses ensures that students experiencing mental health issues are provided with the care they need. MHANs work with students through referral, and offer both counselling and referral services.
Promoting positive student mental health is a shared responsibility and we are all on the same team. If your family or child requires some support, please contact me at the school and we can speak confidentially about how we can work together.