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University of Minnesota Completes Review of Westonka District Mental Health Services
Borg Report May 6, 2022
Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. We are fortunate to have truly exceptional educators at Westonka Public Schools, and it’s important to take every opportunity to recognize and thank them for their dedication to helping every student find success.
On Friday morning, we gathered in the Westonka Performing Arts Center to recognize the 2022 Years of Service Honorees, our building Teachers of the Year, the Westonka Teacher of the Year, our 2021-22 retirees and the Ann Bremer White Hawks Award winner. It was wonderful to be together in person once again in celebration of our staff and community.
Fittingly, as May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I have an update to share on the district’s comprehensive mental health review that was completed this spring.
University of Minnesota District Mental Health Review
Westonka Public Schools staff have made extended efforts to make sure that all students are ready to learn when they walk into our classrooms. We have tackled issues such as student hunger, ensuring students will not go without breakfast or lunch. We have addressed sleep deprivation and adjusted our start times. Additionally, over the past several years, we have sharpened our district focus on supporting our students’ mental health and wellbeing.
We look at mental health comprehensively in Westonka. We know that it includes how our district supports students academically and behaviorally within our school culture, as well as the direct mental health support available for students. Our programs and school sites have worked continuously on supporting student mental health, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recognize that, as a district, we need to provide more direction and support around these efforts.
To this effect, the district applied for and received a mental health grant last year. We used these funds to contract with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota on a comprehensive review of our districtwide implementation of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework and our school mental health services. Information for the review was collected from October 2021-March 2022 through group interviews, staff surveys, student/family surveys, review of extant student data, review of staffing data, and review of district data and documentation (e.g., discipline policies).
An executive summary CAREI’s review is now posted on the district website under About Us > Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, due to a power outage, the summary report that was scheduled for Monday’s board meeting by Dr. Kim Gibbons and Dr. Laura Potter had to be rescheduled. Dr. Gibbons and Dr. Potter are now scheduled to present their findings at the June 6, 2022 board meeting.
The goal of the comprehensive mental health review is to establish a more coordinated district approach and compare Westonka’s current practices to research and best practices to identify strengths and areas for improvements. The results of this review will be prioritized over the summer, and we will be working with CAREI for the next few years on ways we can better help our students.
If you have any questions about the review, or about any other topic, please feel free to contact me directly.