New Safety Initiatives Help Students and Staff Know How to React

choose loveSocial-emotional learning (SEL) is an important new methodology backed by 30 years of research that reduces anxiety and aggression in students while also increasing focus and attendance. When educators are well-versed in SEL, this creates a loving and safe environment in the classroom to foster students' abilities to learn.

Burrell School District is tapping into these many proven benefits with the expertise of SEL specialist Marissa Amerisa.

With her help, the district has implemented the Jesse Lewis Choose Love SEL program, a curriculum created by the mother of a Sandy Hook victim to teach educators and students how to choose love instead of violence.  Scarlett Lewis met with the staff and shared her belief that social-emotional learning is the key to safe and healthy school environments.

Part of the program involved recruiting seniors to act as leaders, and the response was overwhelming. Nearly 40 seniors volunteered to spearhead the program and assist in planning and implementing activities from K-12.

“Plenty of research says kids exposed to social-emotional learning create safer schools and a safer community,” said Carla Roland, Assistant High School Principal at Burrell. “Our social-emotional learning curriculum is based on neuroscience. Every single word is backed up by research.”

We won’t see changes overnight, but we are excited to see what type of citizens Burrell graduates become."

Students are also going through ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training, which will prepare them if the school ever faces an active shooter situation. And in October, high school students will receive Stop the Bleed training, which will teach them how to set up a tourniquet if someone suffers an injury.

“They can use these tactics everywhere,” said Roland. “We do not feel that it’s a school problem, but our school has decided to take an aggressive approach to empower students. These kids are thirsty for knowledge, so we’re teaching them how to be safe.”

Roland was essential in setting up threat assessment training back in August for staff. They learned what makes a threat credible to prevent the district from over- or under-reacting when evaluating risk.

She also coordinated with Lower Burrell Police Chief Tim Weitzel to set up safety presentations for parents attending kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade orientations. Parents learned about what steps they should take if there was ever an emergency at the district.  



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