MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon School District has entered into a one-year partnership with ANDRUS to help teachers improve classroom discipline and management in students.
“Creating Sanctuary in Mount Vernon Schools” is designed to address the early signs of problematic behavior in students before it becomes a larger issue. The professional development program will help teachers aid students who have traumatic pasts.
Officials believe that through the service they can decrease student suspensions, unfounded calls to Child Protective Services and reduce the number of children that are wrongfully placed in special education classes.
The project was made possible by a $100,000 grant that was provided by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services. The program will be implemented for the 2013-14 school year at the Williams and Grimes Elementary Schools and the Longfellow and Davis Middle Schools.
Judith Johnson, the interim superintendent in Mount Vernon, said that the Sanctuary Model will be implemented through workshops and specific training exercises for members of the staff. Lessons will be tailored to help faculty members understand the impact adverse experiences can have on student performance. She said it will help by “paving the way for positive behaviors in adulthood.”
“We believe the ANDRUS partnership supports our strategic goals and objectives for providing positive school experiences essential for academic success,” she added. “With ANDRUS’s expertise and our trained staff, we plan to work together to help our students achieve overall well being.”
The professional development service will help elementary school and middle school administrators and faculty understand the mental health and behavioral strategies for responding to student needs.
In a statement, Gladys Carrion, the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner, said that through programs like this, school districts can better serve students.
“Research shows that when teachers and administrators receive professional development training on how to recognize and respond to children and families affected by trauma, schools become more productive learning environments with improved educational outcomes,” she said.
According to Mimi Corcoran, the president of the Yonkers-based ANDRUS, the Sanctuary Model is a blueprint for change, promoting safety and recovery from adverse situations and experiences.
“The program will support teachers and faculty using tools of the Sanctuary Model to create a safe and nurturing environment for them to learn,” she said. “The partnership holds promising futures for both community institutions.”
Melanie McDonald, a Mount Vernon resident who has two children in the district, said that she thought the professional development program sounded like a promising step forward for the school district.
“It’s no secret that Mount Vernon has had some difficulties in recent years, and we have some of worst scores in the state,” she said. “If they think they can help fix some of that with extra training, I’m all for it.”