SOUTHBRIDGE — Superintendent/Receiver Jeffrey Villar is pleased to announce that Southbridge Public Schools has been awarded a $70,000 grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to benefit social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives.
The “FY2023 Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Learning, Behavioral & Mental Health, and Wellness” Grant will allow the district to partner with Cartwheel, an organization that provides students with timely access to mental health telehealth services. The district plans to purchase technology, like computers and headsets, to enable students to participate in telehealth appointments in school with the funding. Cartwheel also will be available to consult with Southbridge educators on all topics related to students’ mental and behavioral health.
A portion of the funding will be used to purchase the Second Step SEL curriculum, which will be taught to students in pre-K through Grade 5. This curriculum will help students develop important SEL skills to promote healthy habits and cope with factors like anxiety, loneliness and more.
“At Southbridge, we are very cognizant of the importance of Social-Emotional Learning supports in our schools, especially since many of our students are considered high needs. Having these kinds of supports is crucial because students’ mental and emotional well-being usually has a direct impact on their academic and overall success,” Superintendent/Receiver Villar said. “We thank DESE for this generous funding and for providing our educators extra support to meet students’ needs, and in turn to support their overall success.”
Southbridge has been working to expand SEL supports over the past several years, including partnering with the University of Connecticut to focus on positive behavior interventions and supports, a technique that is used to improve and promote school safety and positive behavior; adding a Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator; collecting real data on improvements; and more.
The purpose of this grant is to adapt, expand, or strengthen multi-tiered systems of support to respond to the social-emotional and behavioral health needs of students, families, and educators and to build strong partnerships with community-based mental health agencies and/or providers to create comprehensive mental health systems. To learn more about the grant, click here.