Providing plans for school safety

YOUNGSTOWN — Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University recently hosted a workshop to provide teachers and school administrators with strategies and skills for safe classrooms and buildings.

The professional development event “Safer Schools Strategies for Teachers and Skills for Students” included lectures and panel discussions.

Topics included school safety trauma and calmer classrooms.

Megan Harris, community support and trauma supervisor at Alta Behavioral Healthcare, said teachers can focus on what students have done that is good.

“Have the students credited for what they did right. Get your classrooms thinking about positives about each other,” she said.

Harris said health care professionals are often asked to provide input and suggestions for teachers on how to best arrange classrooms for the most effective work environment and a room where children feel safe. She said classrooms should not be congested, especially around pencil sharpeners and lockers.

“Watch for bullying and put an end to it and encourage being nice to each other,” Harris said.

Harris said often children bring a lot of issues with them to school.

“There are many children who are already torn down when they come to school. It is important to build them up. Teachers and administrators can make being respectful to others important. Establish a safe classroom where we do not bully one another,” Harris said.

Jamie Miller, clinical director at Alta Behavioral Healthcare, said his daughter’s classroom has a bucket where children write down what they like about another student.

He said schools can help remove adversity and allow for positive relationships among students in classroom-based activities.

“I would ask her whose bucket did you fill up and who filled up your bucket and what did they say about you and what did you say about them,” Miller said.

Mary Lou DiPillo, associate dean of Beeghly College of Education, said many students are challenged by adverse childhood experiences and environmental factors.

DiPillo said the program helped teachers and administrators understand what they can do to make the schools better for these and other children. Panel speakers included principals, ALICE trainers and clinical service directors at juvenile courts.

She said one panelist brought a student who shared his experiences in schools.

“What is the one thing we can take away to help students the most when they are dealing with trauma in their life? The whole panel stressed the importance of building rapport with students,” DiPillo said.

Hubbard schools director of pupil services Mary Mathews-Bebech said the day’s event provided her with many new insights and ways to address students who face so many issues.