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School system adds position to support mental health services

Brunswick News - 7/17/2018

July 17--Glynn County Schools has added to its administration a new position that will oversee wrap-around services for the mental health programs offered to students.

Senetra Haywood will take over this school year as the director of student services. The position oversees school counselors, social workers and nurses.

Virgil Cole, superintendent of Glynn County Schools, said Monday that the director of student services position will bring together all the various mental health services that have been offered in Glynn County Schools. Now, he said, all those services will fall under the supervision of a single department head.

"It will provide a lot of support in ways that we haven't been able to do in the last several years," he said.

The goal is to support both students and their families, Cole said.

"It's providing that wrap-around type support, to make sure we create a supportive environment for students," he said.

Haywood previously served as the director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education programs for Glynn County Schools. In that position, she also worked with school counselors. The CTAE director position will be absorbed into the role of the Golden Isles College and Career Academy's CEO, Rick Townsend.

Haywood has already begun to review to the social and emotional health curriculum options for system-wide implementation, according to a report given to Glynn County Board of Education members at a work session last week.

She will also review the school system's prescribed protocol for suicide prevention.

"Back in 2015, it was mandated that we implement and require training every year, so we got together with some of our community stakeholders and developed that plan," Haywood said at the school board work session July 10. "... We've been working on making some adjustments to that plan as it relates to not just self harm, but also harm of others, because someone who is suicidal can also be homicidal."

Haywood will work with Rod Ellis, chief of Glynn County Schools Police, on a threat assessment team to establish district-wide protocols.

"We intend to make sure that we have all those pieces in place so those plans work collaboratively together," Haywood said. "We don't want to have five different plans, but we want everything to work seamlessly together."

Student cases will be reviewed regularly, to determine appropriate interventions.

Haywood will also oversee ongoing initiatives to provide mental health support in schools.

During the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year, the school system used Title IV funds to bring in mental health professionals to offer weekly counseling sessions at the Jackson Learning Center, an alternative school for students with a history of behavioral issues.

"The focus of those sessions had to do with decision making and dealing with relationships and peer pressure and those kinds of things that we know are issues for those students and are contributing factors to them ending up in that setting," said Valerie Whitehead, executive director of strategy and innovation for Glynn County Schools, at the work session.

Cole said the new director of student services position will ensure that, across the school district, consistent mental health support is provided to students.

"Making sure we're doing everything we can to provide students with all the resources to be successful as they move through the system is very important," he said.

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(c)2018 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

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