Mental Health and Middle School Students – The Santa Barbara Independent

mental health and
Middle school students

crane country day school
empower students
With self-care habits

Tyler Hayden November 16, 2023

Credit: Kindly

Read all the stories on the cover of Schools of Thought 2023 here.

At Crane Country Day School, personal wellbeing and mental health have always been our top priority. In fact, part of its mission statement reads: However, challenging academics should not outweigh the joy of learning or get in the way of maintaining a balanced and sustainable lifestyle. ”

Alexa Hughes, a math teacher and the school’s eighth-grade dean, said Crane is leaning even further into this philosophy in a post-COVID-19 world. “If we don’t address mental health and wellbeing, if we don’t make sure our students feel safe and have a place, we may end up giving them the best lessons in the world. , I realized that it doesn’t matter, because the students don’t belong to the society that absorbs them.”

Therefore, Crane High School’s sixth- through eighth-grade schedules are structured to help students incorporate self-care habits into their daily lives, Hughes explained. Each student is assigned a supervisor and a group of advisors who meet for his first and last 45 minutes of the day.

Hughes said these times are for students to do homework, take a quiet break, or chat while playing cards or puzzles. Or you can talk one-on-one with your advisor about anything you’re concerned about, like an upcoming test or a problem with a friend. “This is a regular touchpoint for them,” Hughes said. Even though it’s held outside among the lawns and trees of Crane’s beautiful campus, “it has a homeroom feel.”

Credit: Kindly

Hughes, who has been an educator for more than 20 years, said Crane’s faculty work harder than most other schools to build meaningful relationships with students. “I’ve been working at Crane for four years, and one thing I’ve noticed is how comfortable the students are with their teachers,” she said. “It’s really spectacular,” she said, adding that it’s also practical. “When you’re teaching students quadratic equations and you develop a personal relationship with them, they listen better.”

In addition to the academic support it provides, Hughes said the advisory group also participates in activities that strengthen social-emotional awareness, with school psychologists teaching lessons about privilege and intent and impact. We also offer therapy dogs, sound baths, meditative tapping sessions, and if you need a group to relax, we can take you off campus for lunch or set up a slide if the weather is nice. can. “That’s the fun part,” Hughes said.

While many schools are starting to prioritize students’ mental health, there are still no universal best practices, Hughes said. Probably that too. “Boxed curricula for social-emotional learning are not effective for teens,” she says. “They’ll see through it.” Therefore, Crane faculty are always looking for ways to make instruction more meaningful and personal.

And so far, they seem to be succeeding. “I think we’re achieving that,” Hughes said. “As a middle school teacher, when I send my students out into the bigger pond, I always want them to have skills that nurture their hearts and minds,” she said. “It’s about knowing who they are and having the confidence to advocate for what’s best for them.”

“We’re giving them space to practice here,” Hughes said. “It’s a safe place to try everything.”

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