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Superintendent’s Message: District 54 committed to social and emotional well-being of students

Each year, District 54 employees have been committed to the social and emotional well-being of our students, as well as their academic success.

We will continue that work this year with a variety of programs designed to support the whole child.

Positive Psychology

Last year, all District 54 staff were trained in the positive psychology work developed by Harvard researcher Shawn Achor, outlined in his book The Happiness Advantage. I am excited to continue that work with year. Our employees are reading Shawn’s newest book Big Potential, which emphasizes that working together enhances our happiness and success.

In addition, we will be providing books for each District 54 family called The Orange Frog, a parable by Shawn. These books, which include District 54 study guides, will help parents and children learn about the happiness principles together.

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

This fall, every student in District 54 will participate in our new Social Emotional Learning curriculum. Although this has long been incorporated in lesson plans, for the first time we have a consistent district curriculum aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards to ensure that all of our children are prepared with the skills and dispositions needed to be successful.

Adolescent Support

Numerous studies have noted the increase in adolescent depression nationwide. All school districts should be doing something to address this disturbing trend. This fall, District 54 will introduce six areas of focus throughout our junior highs and in grades 6-8 at Lincoln Prairie to better address the needs of our adolescent students. These areas are

  • Be Your Best Self
  • Bully Prevention Month
  • Kindness Month
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Happiness Month
  • Change for the Betterment of Mankind – Celebrating Service Month

The schools will enlist Student Ambassadors to lead and champion this work, as research indicates that the best path to minimizing bullying and motivating adolescents is teaching and empowering the students to lead this work.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Systematic behavioral intervention was implemented in District 54 more than 10 years ago. However, we are always looking for ways to improve. This fall, every District 54 student will participate in a Universal Screener to help us identify students in need of greater social-emotional support. Teaching staff in District 54 will take a brief survey about the students they know well. Students identified as having heightened risk factors, will receive greater levels of intervention and support.

Healthcare Professionals

Every school in District 54 has full-time, certified staff in place to support students with their social-emotional needs. District 54 social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors and behavior coaches meet with students on a regular basis, or as needed, to provide them counseling support. Our clinicians put plans in place in conjunction with the student’s family and classroom teachers to enable students to be successful.

These are just a few of the many things we do in District 54 to support our students and their families, but of course, our work isn’t possible without a strong connection with parents and community partners. I look forward to sharing this work with you throughout the school year as we work together to ensure the success of the children in this community.