CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Clarksville-Montgomery Schools returned to the classroom for the 2022-2023 school year Monday, with a focus on mental health.
"We try to find ways to reduce barriers that may come in with students on a daily basis that could prevent them from the learning process," explained Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Emotional Learning Director Matt Slight.
He said the district is making a comprehensive effort to keep up with the changing world students encounter to help prevent mental crises and violent nightmares.
"When you take into effect the rate of change within technology and access that students have to technology, the pandemic and just the nature of Generation Z in itself, that's where this position becomes vital to help not just our students, but our families," Slight said. "To learn to adjust to change, to identify why change is occurring, and then to try to put those supports into place to help navigate that change."
"Whether it is a poverty-related issue or a hunger-related issue, what can we do to provide and to help that family to be able to move up so that their child has less of a negative impact on them," Slight explained. "So that it lowers that barrier, so that learning can take place and so that they can reach their full academic potential."
The district offers counseling and social workers for students, but for the new school year they added more social workers that are available for parents to work with.
"We know that when we look at children in particular who come in with a high level of adverse childhood experiences, that if we make the proper impact, we put them with the right teacher, if we get them to support the need and then the early intervention piece, that it changes families for history," Slight said.
"I don't necessarily think that parents often look at the school community as being a resource, but as we continue to support the community, we'll be making that shift and I think they will see that very soon," said Slight. "That's something that we really want in the Clarksville-Montgomery County school system, is that relationship with our families."
The district introduced an online Social and Emotional Learning Family Resource Hub online in past school years, but for the 2022-2023 school year added a School Safety hub. This gives students and parents a one-stop shop for all the resources the district offers.
"We hear you, we hear from our teachers, we hear from our stakeholders, we hear from our families and we are working to build partnerships and relationships with our community and with our families in order to make sure...their academic and behavioral needs are met and we are committed to doing that," said Slight. "And I think this year families are going to see it like they haven't seen it before."