RAYMOND — Superintendent Tina McCoy is pleased to announce that the Raymond School District has hired a new administrator who will focus on students’ behavioral health.
Jessica Caron has been named the district’s director of student behavioral health, and will oversee the district’s efforts to utilize a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Education. She is expected to begin her new role on March 3.
The $922,418 grant, which includes funding for Caron’s position, will be put to use over the next five years to support Project AWARE within the district.
Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) is a federal program designed to support mental health services in order to make schools safer. The goals of the program include:
- Providing youth mental health first aid training to school staff
- Using a multi-tiered framework to reduce school violence, bullying, behavior problems, suspensions, substance use and punitive/exclusionary discipline practices
- Reducing the need for intensive treatment, out-of-home placement, hospitalization or incarceration of youths
- Substantially improve the engagement of schools, families and youth in decision-making
“Ensuring the health and wellness of our students is a core component of our work to provide them with a meaningful educational experience,” Superintendent McCoy said. “Jessica will be a tremendous asset to our students and families, as well as our staff, as we all work together to support their social, emotional and behavioral needs.”
Caron will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of Project AWARE district-wide. She will be responsible for developing a data-driven comprehensive plan for services and strategies that builds upon New Hampshire’s existing Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports for Behavioral Health and Wellness framework (MTSS-B).
She will take on an active role raising awareness of mental health issues common among school-aged children — stress, anxiety, depression, food insecurity, homelessness and family substance use disorders — provide training for school personnel to develop their ability to detect and respond to those issues and connect students and families in need with services to more fully address mental health concerns.
The grant also focuses on engaging and working with community partners to build and strengthen resources for our students and families, including its existing relationship with the Raymond Coalition For Youth (RCFY), which played a significant role in the district receiving the funding.
Through close collaboration, school and community leaders can work together to foster a unified level of awareness among all adults who work with, and engage children, so that everyone is aware of the importance of addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and understands the importance of Raymond being a trauma-informed community.
“We were very excited to learn about this opportunity and look forward to working more closely with the school and Ms. Caron.” Celeste Clark, Executive Director, Raymond Coalition For Youth. “Having this new resource in the school will help build upon existing programming, training and resources, to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and allow for increased awareness to resources to support those in need.”
Caron is an experienced social worker who, prior to joining the district, worked as a mental health clinician and most recently as a director of operations specializing in child behavioral health services for Lahey Health. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Western New England College and her master’s degree from Springfield College.