Walt Cooper mug, District 12 superintendent, cheyenne edition

WALT COOPER

When the Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 Board of Education launched its current long-range plan just shy of two years ago, one of the foundational values expressed in the plan was placing the needs and welfare of students as our highest priority.

The plan further affirmed the district’s commitment to providing an emotionally supportive learning environment for every student. These two commitments are driving forces behind our work to provide broadbased and effective mental health support to students in all grade levels in each of our schools.

And while we work diligently on effective support across the district, we often find that many in our community remain unaware of available supports and other mental health efforts.

At the crux of our efforts is our District 12 Mental Health Team, which is comprised of four licensed social workers and five licensed school psychologists. This team’s primary role is to identify and support individual mental health interventions and initiatives at each school in the district.

The same four social workers that serve on our mental health team also serve each of our school communities individually as well in two primary capacities. They serve as mental health professionals by providing short-term mental health support while also communicating with outside providers and promoting mental wellness. They serve as community liaisons connecting families to external resources.

However, our professional support of students goes beyond just those services provided by our mental health team. All school counselors and over 100 staff members are now trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid and are now able to be first responders to adolescents in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.

In terms of direct interventions with students, all students in grades 8 through 12 participate in the SOS: Signs of Suicide curriulum designed to help them recognize and seek help for peers experiencing suicidal thoughts or demonstrating other risky behaviors. Additionally, the D-12 board has also paid for training more than 500 high school students and staff in mindfulness and positivity psychology and will train more than 400 additional students next semester.

Lastly, the cistrict maintains a mental health advisory group made up primarily of District 12 parents that meets quarterly to discuss needs and effective mental health supports for all students. Parents interested in participating in this advisory group are encouraged to contact Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carolena Steen at csteen@cmsd12.org.

Walt Cooper is the superintendent of schools in Cheyenne Mountain School District 12. He was selected as the Colorado Superintendent of the Year for 2018.

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