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Tornadoes, Shooting Add To Increasing Need For Student Emotional Support Services

Brett Levin
Flickr Creative Commons

Class is back in session in many Dayton area school districts. Hundreds of students in those districts were, in some way, affected by both the Memorial Day tornadoes and the Oregon District mass shooting. 

Some districts say they are responding to students’ mental health needs, but the need for those services has already been rising in recent years.

In the Trotwood Madison City School District, 226 students were displaced by the May tornadoes. Officials say they’re seeing students with signs of trauma related to the tornado and the shooting. 

Trotwood Schools’ Ella Jordan Isaac says, so far, they’ve identified five students that have exhibited or come forward to express post-tornado trauma. But, she says those cases are in addition to an existing upward trend in the district for more emotional support services. 

"All our students and families are very resilient,” she says. “And so we are looking at a very comprehensive team approach. We have our mental health therapists, we have social workers, and our counselors are all being very vigilant in terms of keeping an eye out for student behaviors, concerns from families.”

In the Beavercreek City School District, officials report they’re also seeing more students who need mental health assistance. 

“Not every kid is coming to school knowing how to take somebody else's perspective, or be able to build and maintain relationships with other kids, or be able to wait their turn and follow directions, and some of that leads to behavior problems and conflict among peers,” says Bobbi Fiori, director of student services. “So, we've been seeing the need to address more social emotional topics and skills over the past even three or four years."

The same trends are visible in Dayton Public Schools, officials say. Because of the increased need for student support services, DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Loli says the district is working on a plan to increase the number of counselors available for struggling students.

“We are probably about six to eight months away from rolling that fully out, but we are very aware with the governor's new initiative that Dayton public schools as well as many other schools in this state will have some additional funding to support some additional personnel and that's what we're planning right now," says Loli.

Districts may have a better picture of what additional resources and funding will be available to them once Governor Mike DeWine holds his Building Resiliency: A Pediatric Mental Health Summit on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at the Sinclair Conference Center in Dayton.

In August, DeWine announced the new state budget included $675 million in funding for schools working with local mental health and social service providers to address social and emotional support services for students.

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Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.