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Plan will bring services into schools

COAL GROVE – Dawson-Bryant School District has unveiled plans to revive human services agencies’ involvement with education.

Monday, December 06, 1999

COAL GROVE – Dawson-Bryant School District has unveiled plans to revive human services agencies’ involvement with education.

The plan focuses on building partnerships with counselors, health professionals, juvenile court workers and others from outside the school system, Dawson-Bryant superintendent Jim Payne said.

The high school has opened office space where the agencies can work with educators and students during the school day, Payne said.

"A lot of times, we don’t have all the answers," he said. "It’s important to seek help from professionals who can do the best for our kids."

And such partsnerhips will lead to a case management educational approach, allowing a school to meet its main goal – helping children learn to succeed into adulthood, state superintendent Dr. Susan Tave-Zelman said.

Dr. Zelman addressed Payne, educators, human services professions and others Thursday at Dawson-Bryant High School, outlining a strategic plan that takes the same agency-involvement approach.

"I’m asking you to work with educators and be our partners to meet all the needs of our children," Dr. Zelman told representatives of Headstart, the juvenile court, the Family Guidance Center, the Job Training Partnership Act center, Shawnee Mental Health, the Counseling Center, Collins Career Center, the health department, ABLE, the Department of Human Services and others.

When human services agencies understand educators and educators involve human services workers, a student can be brought back into the classroom where he or she can learn, she said.

Dr. Zelman told of one Lawrence County student she learned about, whose story helped draw her back to this area.

After Christmas break one year, the student repeatedly disrupted class, resulting in detention for more than a month. The child’s behavior worsened, bordering on expulsion.

Fortunately, the school had a family support team that brought in a mental health professional, who found out that the child had been sexually abused by an uncle during the holiday break, Dr. Zelman said.

"The family and child got counseling and I understand the child functions well now," she said. "We can make a difference in the lives of children, when educators and health and human services professionals work closely together."

To help it happen, Dawson-Bryant High will use existing space at the high school – a dedicated wing of sorts where the nurse’s station is located – to create shared offices for JTPA, student nurses from Collins Career Center, rooms for evaluations by Shawnee or staff from the Lawrence County Educational Services Center, said high school co-principal Steve Easterling.

"The doors of Dawson-Bryant are open to agencies and we will do what it takes to help our kids succeed," Easterling said.

Dr. Zelman pledged support from Columbus, saying state strategy focuses on academic achievement for all children.

And there will be no excuses for not meeting that need, she said.

"They all are our children and we all are responsible," she added. "With strong partnerships, we can have strong communities and schools."

Kay Bentley Swartzwelder, Dawson-Bryant Board of Education member and director of health programs at Collins Career Center, knows what Dr. Zelman means.

Collins will partner with Dawson-Bryant High to bring student nurses into the school system, which means more students will receive services.

And, although Dawson-Bryant has sought help from its community before, it’s time to establish more partnerships, bringing in more outside professionals, Mrs. Swartzwelder said.

"It’s looking at the child holistically, not just when they’re here," she said. "It’s amazing what sometimes kids need and we just expect them to sit there and do their work."