Com­mit­tees com­bine stu­dent safety ef­forts

Record Observer - - SCHOOL -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools’ Depart­ment of Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices an­nounces a merger of two crit­i­cal com­mit­tees that have been in­stru­men­tal with spear­head­ing life-chang­ing pro­grams that have pos­i­tively im­pacted stu­dents over the past six years. The QAC Anti-bul­ly­ing Com­mit­tee and the Part­ner­ship for Sui­cide Preven­tion have com­bined to form QAC Safety Net. This group will now proac­tively ad­dress be­hav­ioral health, bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, as well as stu­dent sui­cide preven­tion in Queen Anne’s County.

“These two sub-com­mit­tees had so many com­mon de­nom­i­na­tors it was ver y in­ten­tional on our part to merged the two groups,” said Brad En­gel, su­per­vi­sor of Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices with QACPS and a co-chair of the new Safety Net. “In do­ing so, we have cre­ated a group of car­ing, knowl­edge­able in­di­vid­u­als who can share best prac­tices and re­sources that cover our schools and our com­mu­nity with a full arse­nal of men­tal health sup­port.”

Through this merger, both com­mit­tees will be able to stream­line their ef­forts and ad­dress the ar­eas of need more ef­fec­tively. The struc­ture of Safety Net will con­sist of five co-chairs, each as­signed dif­fer­ent tasks to over­see. Co-chairs in­clude Stir­ling Ward, clin­i­cal re­source spe­cial­ist/qacps; Les­lie Fol­lum, pupil per­son­nel worker/qacps; Matt Evans, pupil per­son­nel worker/qacps; Linda Austin, com­mu­nity mem­ber; and Brad En­gel.

As part of its mis­sion, Safety Net par­tic­i­pants will con­tinue to be in­volved in project-based ini­tia­tives such as The Out of the Dark­ness Walk, Youth Men­tal Health First Aid, safetalk, Kog­ni­tomd, and school cli­mate ini­tia­tives, as well as pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tors, par­ents and com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“Much like its name ‘safety net’, the goal is to be an allinclu­sive sup­port sys­tem, a re­source and a place of ac­ces­si­bil­ity,” said Stir­ling Ward. “We want our stu­dents — com­mu­nity — to have a safe place to turn, and we want to be pre­pared and proac­tive. If we want to save lives, save fam­i­lies and save fu­tures we must reimag­ine our pro­grams and take con­crete steps to im­prove stu­dents’ dayto-day ex­pe­ri­ences. Com­bin­ing these two groups has so many pos­i­tives; we are all ex­cited to be on the same page to­gether.”

Safety Net meets monthly and is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing goals and strate­gies with ac­tion plans, time­lines and a cal­en­dar of events fo­cused on rais­ing funds as well as aware­ness for men­tal health and in­clu­sion is­sues.

“Ev­ery stu­dent in the QACPS has worth and po­ten­tial, and we want each stu­dent to feel val­ued and ac­cepted,” said Ward. “All in­volved with Safety Net have stu­dents needs as their num­ber one pri­or­ity and that is es­sen­tial for all around suc­cess.”

QACPS PHOTO

Safety Net Co-chair­men, from left, Stir­ling Ward, Les­lie Fol­lum, Brad En­gel, Matt Evans and Linda Austin.

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