Committees combine student safety efforts
CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Public Schools’ Department of Student Support Services has announced a merger of two committees that have been instrumental with spearheading life-changing programs that have positively impacted students during 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 proactively address behavioral health, bullying and harassment, as well as student suicide prevention in Queen Anne’s County.
“These two subcommittees had so many common denominators it was very intentional on our part to merged the two groups,” said Brad Engel, supervisor of Student Support Services with QACPS and a co-chairman 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-chairmen 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 all-inclusive support system, a resource and a place of accessibility,” Stirling Ward said. “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’ day-today 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.
Safety Net Co-Chairmen, from left, Stirling Ward, Leslie Follum, Brad Engel, Matt Evans and Linda Austin.