LEES CREEK — The East Clinton school district has hired a full-time social worker in response to growing mental health needs of students.
Samantha L. (née Bean) McGraw is no stranger to East Clinton, having graduated from there in 2007. Her time will be split basically between the two elementary schools in Sabina and New Vienna.
Since graduating from Capital University in Columbus with a bachelor’s degree in social work, McGraw has been employed at Southeast Inc. in Columbus as a case worker and children’s counselor, the Lighthouse Youth Center in Bainbridge as a family advocate, Highland County Community Action in Hillsboro as a home visitor, and most recently with Solutions Community Counseling & Recovery Center in Wilmington as intensive case manager.
The question of how to take on the growing needs with students’ mental health, in particular in the elementary grades, was presented at a school board meeting in February. At the time, East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee said providing more counseling-type assistance to the elementary principals had been discussed before.
McGraw received a one-year contract that goes into effect next Monday.
During New Vienna Elementary School Principal Jason Jones’ report Tuesday night to the board, he thanked the board for considering the hiring of a social worker. He added that the district will not get to where it wants to in regard to academic performance “unless we take care of some of these [children’s] needs.”
The New Vienna principal mentioned there had been a student situation that very day at the school.
On another topic, New Vienna Elementary students who are classified as “chronically absent” by a State of Ohio standard have been “targeted” by that building’s educators for extra attention, said Jones.
On Tuesday, school officials conducted meetings with seven parents to brainstorm ideas and help the family get a better plan for better attendance by the child, he said.
Similarly, East Clinton High School Principal Kerri Matheny reported a “watch list” has been developed of students who are at-risk of not being able to graduate, whether it be due to credits, grades, bad attendance, end-of-course tests, and so forth.
Each of those students has been assigned a teacher as a mentor.
Furthermore, in regard to any attendance issues, there is a conscious effort to try to make the high school a place where the teenagers want to get up and be at every day in terms of its climate and positivity, said Matheny.
During public participation, a mother of a middle school boy asked school officials to consider making changes to school policy after her son received a three-day suspension for making a gun hand-gesture in a science classroom.
The mother said the son’s side of the story is that he was giving an example of a Nerf gun in connection with the science topic of kinetic and potential energy. Her son was not sent to the principal’s office until the next day, said the mother, who is concerned about the suspension being on the boy’s school records.
She wondered how the school district can say it has zero tolerance and yet hold a “Nerf war” fundraiser where Nerf guns are used.
Magee said the teacher believes the gun hand-gesture was directed at her, and that an adult teacher’s aide agrees with that.
Follow-up procedures were done in accord with school policy and the law, added the superintendent.
Magee, after the decision to suspend was appealed to him, affirmed the decision of the middle school principal to issue a three-day suspension.
Board Vice President Tim Starkey, who presided over Tuesday’s board meeting in President Linda Compton’s absence, said everything the mother said would be taken into consideration and they then will get back with her.
The board also heard from high school student and Magnified Giving member Trysten Bosier and the organization’s advisor Casey Curtis. They spoke about the group and its activities. The intent, they said, is to get students involved in philanthropy.
Bosier said belonging to East Clinton’s Magnified Giving group lets him have a hands-on opportunity to see what the charitable non-profits that the EC group works with stand for and want to do.
Curtis said most Magnified Giving groups are located at parochial or private schools, rather than in a public school such as East Clinton. There are 16 members of the EC group, 15 in high school and one middle schooler.
East Clinton Local Schools Treasurer John Stanley announced that a document containing the school district’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 has been prepared, and is available for the public to review. The document can be reviewed at the district’s central office on the Lees Creek campus during regular business hours Mondays through Fridays.
Stanley also reported the district no longer has any debt on the Sabina, New Vienna and high school building projects, with the final bond payment being made this month.
Magee complimented the high school’s program for Veterans Day run by the students. He said he has received a lot of positive feedback from veterans.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.