Superintendent’s Education Update: Investing in the Whole Child

Our staff are committed to fostering a positive learning environment for all students. We know that our educators are doing tremendous work given the complex level of challenges our students experience. These challenges show up in a variety of behaviors in our schools and classrooms. The Corvallis School District is making investments in staffing, curriculum, and professional learning to support the full range of needs of students and educators.

Staffing Investments

The District continues to use a multi-disciplinary approach to educate the whole child (academic, social-emotional, and physical needs). In the past three years, we have added behavior support staff at all schools, increased school counselor staffing hours (FTE – full time equivalent), and increased FTE of the Health Navigators and Family Liaisons. The District nursing team has also been expanded by 1.0 FTE, which brings the nursing staffing level to its highest ever for the District. A Medicaid reimbursement coordinator was also hired, to increase federal reimbursements in order to establish a more stable funding base for these investments.

Thanks to the Corvallis School Board’s investment in this additional staffing, students and families are better connected to local resources and support within their school building. While these investments have helped us make strides toward supporting the whole child, the 2019-20 budget will help us advance this work. Next year’s proposed budget includes a number of strategic investments. All secondary schools will have 1.0 FTE health room assistant and hours will increase at all elementary schools for health room staffing. Next school year, every elementary school will have high-quality therapy available to students, as well as behavior skills trainers who will work alongside counseling and behavior staff to improve behavioral outcomes for students. Middle and high school students are served by school counselors and mental health counselors from Trillium Health Resources. The District’s Mental Health Therapist Manager will support district-wide programming, and work with students, families, and staff in all schools.

Professional Learning and Curriculum Investments

The District will implement a set of research-based social-emotional learning curricula K-12. At the elementary level, the curriculum Caring School Communities is designed to help students become caring, responsible members of their school community. The Great Body Shop curriculum was implemented this year K-8, providing age-appropriate education about physical, social, emotional, and mental health.

Linus Pauling Middle School piloted a small portion of the character education program CharacterStrong, the goal of which is to teach students and staff the skills necessary to build healthy relationships in an inclusive school community and beyond. Teachers and students gave positive feedback. Full implementation will occur for all middle school students next year.

Sources of Strength, a program to motivate students to develop multiple strengths and seek support from their peers as well as adults, was launched at the secondary level this year. Additionally, all 9th grade students are required to take Freshman Health, a yearlong class providing health, mental health, and wellness education.

The proposed 2019-20 budget also includes funds to provide staff with ongoing professional learning focused on social-emotional learning strategies including collaborative problem solving, trauma informed practices, and crisis intervention and prevention.