Category: Current Issue

Diving deeper
into social and
emotional health
WOODSTOCK — As the third school year affected by the pandemic steadily remains strenuous, the focus on students’ social and emotional health continues to be prioritized. The Woodstock Academy has made persistent efforts to support students socially and emotionally including additional student support staff, school-based mental health services, training for teachers, and increased opportunities for open discussion in classrooms and advisory.
 “We are keenly aware of how crucial it is to be innovative and make concerted efforts to address our student’s social and emotional needs,” said Chris Sandford, head of school. “We truly believe it is the responsibility of all educational institutions to not only provide educational support, but also social and emotional support to protect the mental health of our youth.”
To meet these needs, The Woodstock Academy has hired a full-time member of the student support staff team and will continue to provide school-based mental health services through its recent partnership with Silver Linings Counseling. School-based counseling allows students to begin therapy much sooner and eliminates the need for transportation to and from appointments, which has a direct impact on students’ mental health and well-being.
“Over the past two years, The Academy has made several changes to better meet the social-emotional needs of our students,” said Karin Hughes, dean of student affairs. “Through our partnership with Silver Linings Counseling, our students have had direct and ongoing access to counseling services. A significant increase in need for services, combined with fewer resources in our local area, means that many community-based providers have lengthy waitlists, or have stopped taking new clients altogether.”
In addition, The Woodstock Academy recently hired a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, Christopher Smith, to work with students on behavioral issues such as school avoidance. Because this varies by student, Smith can recommend support and interventions that are individualized for each student and their unique needs.
Faculty and staff have continued to receive professional development throughout the year to assist in their focus on social-emotional learning.
“As we aim to provide support by any means necessary, we continue to ask ourselves ‘What is best for our students? What needs do our students have? How can we partner with families to meet those needs?’” said Sandford.