Red Deer Public Schools is more than teaching students reading, writing and arithmetic. All students, no matter their age, grade or ability are supported in the Division, not just academically but emotionally, mentally and physically.
“It’s important that we support the whole child, while giving them an excellent education,” said Nicola Golby, Associate Superintendent of Student Services with Red Deer Public. “This ensures each student is able to reach their full potential and helps set them up for success in the future.”
All schools in Red Deer Public are equipped with a team of wrap around services, beginning with the School Learning Team. Members of the team include school administrators and educators, Community Liaison Workers or school counsellors, as well as academic support and other services, to ensure each and every student is well taken care of and are supported mentally, emotionally and physically. There are also excellent services provided by speech and language therapists, a contracted psychologist, and for students who are deaf or hard of hearing or visually impaired. This year, the Division hired three more staff to support mental health and increased counsellor time to help support students. In addition, the Division has a partnership with Alberta Health Services for therapists who can be accessed both in school and within the community.
“Over the course of the year, it’s not only important that we focus on how students are doing academically, but it’s also important to know how our students are doing emotionally, mentally and physically,” said Golby. “We want to ensure all students are engaged, supported, challenged, healthy and safe.
“We are proud to offer these wrap around support services for our students. If your child is struggling, talk with their teacher,” added Golby. “They will be able to help ensure your child gets the support they need.”
It's more important than ever to ensure students and staff feel supported as the last two and a half years have been spent navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our teachers, our administrators, and our support staff have been on the front line of helping our students and families continue to learn despite the difficulties that the pandemic brought,” she said. “Over the course of last school year we ensured that we were looking after each other so that we emerged better than ever.”
To help ensure students are supported, all 1,500 staff in the Division have been trained in a program called Go To Educator, which helps in the early identification, support, triage and referral of students who may be battling mental health challenges. In addition, in partnership with Alberta Health Services, all staff have undergone trauma training, which has helped ensure staff have a common understanding and language of trauma, and provide an additional lens in supporting students and families in a compassionate and informed way. Additionally, Division-created mental health lessons have become part of the mandatory curriculum.
“It’s also important for Red Deer Public to foster a health and wellness-rich environment for all staff,” said Golby. “This ensures that our staff are ready and able to help our students.”
This includes a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. email/text policy for staff to help eliminate non-urgent emails and texts on evenings and weekends, a focus on staff wellness on Staff Learning Days, and workplace wellness initiatives.
“We have two Division Valuing Mental Health Coordinators who help promote and drive mental health and wellness across Red Deer Public and support school administration and staff. We also have a Wellness Steering Committee and Wellness Champions in each school,” said Golby.
These wrap-around support services help ensure excellence in teaching and learning happen in every classroom for both students and staff.