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BOE President's Report April 2019
Jackie Bermudez

NJSBA Mental Health Conference

I attended the NJSBA school Mental health conference on April 9, 2019.

There were several speakers who discussed topics on Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness, School Culture and Climate, and Play Therapy for all students. North Brunswick Superintendent spoke about their behavioral mental health staffing, which was part of their strategic plan safe and caring school initiative, and the Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth discussed suicide prevention.

We must understand that SEL (social-emotional learning) is not a program but a process. We must understand as educators and parents that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. We must start by asking the question 'what happened to that child' instead of 'what is wrong with that child'. School districts must begin the process of teaching the whole child, including self awareness, self management, social awareness, responsible decision making and relationship skills.

Every child needs to have a healthy relationship with at least one non-parental adult. Many students and young adults today have lost the ability to form any kind of relationship. They have become disconnected from themselves and others. They have no resiliency. Parents are making all the decisions for them. We must prepare them for life beyond high school. There is an increase in substance abuse among 18-24 year olds. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds behind accidents and homicide.

We must cultivate a school climate and culture for college and career success.

We know that students who participate in extracurricular activities are more successful in school and beyond high school. Is it because of the connections and relationships that they form with their advisors, coaches, teammates and fellow students? We are seeing a cut in these extracurricular activities due to funding. There is less participation in sports because of the health risks with concussions. Are these factors connected to why students today are more in need of SEL?

We have always encouraged parental involvement. Research has shown that parental involvement increases student achievement and success. Human beings need to feel loved and valued. Parental Involvement is showing your child they are loved and valued.

Manchester Township School District will continue to educate the whole student and teach them to be capable, connected and contributing to Manchester Township.

Other State Level News

Under legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Murphy, school districts can require students to carry identification cards while on field trips or other off-campus activities.

The bill, A-4342/S-2855 (P.L. 2019, c.57), permits each school district to implement a policy requiring all students to carry a school identification card issued by the district while the student is at any school-sponsored, off-campus activity including, but not limited to, field trips or interscholastic sports programs.

I will be attending in May NJSBA Special Education Symposium on May 13 and the NJSBA and NJPTA Legislative Day in Trenton on May 16. OCSBA Meeting will be May 21, where will have training on setting board goals and recognize School Board members' achievements.