Over 8,000 Gather From Alpine School District To Kick Off New Year
OREM, Utah – Student well-being and the influence, especially teachers, can have on their students is a new focus for all employees in the Alpine School District.
District officials spoke about the emphasis at a large gathering in Orem.
Once every four years, the district brings all employees together before the school year begins for a gathering held at Utah Valley University. More than 8,000 people from the district’s schools, mostly teachers, were in attendance.
It was an energizing finale to the summer break that officials hoped would help teachers get back into the classroom to ready start another year.
“I hope that our teachers are walking away feeling like there’s a system of support around them,” said Superintendent Sam Jarman. “We’ve hired more psychologists, social workers, behavior specialist… we have more counselors in our elementary schools besides those that are already in our secondary schools.”
Dr. Matt Swenson, a local expert on mental health of children and teens, gave the keynote address and told the teachers it’s always best to start by listening.
“We know what kids need, is that they need to feel more safe to be themselves and to talk and to feel their emotions and to explore an even to fail that they need to feel more confident,” he said.
Dr. Swenson believes many adults spend too much time focusing on why students are struggling emotionally – from friends to cell phones, social media and more – instead of responding to how the teens are feeling.
“If we can help kids feel safe connected and confident, I think a lot of the other conversation around mental health is largely unnecessary and less confusing,” he added.
As these teachers get ready for the first day of class, they also know they are a critical link in the community, to help children who are struggling emotionally.
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