Cornwall Cares Committee addresses student needs

File photo Assistant Superintendent Gail Duffy is a member of the Cornwall Cares Committee.

File photo
Assistant Superintendent Gail Duffy is a member of the Cornwall Cares Committee.

A committee of school board members, teachers, administrators, and community members began meeting this school year. The Cornwall Cares Committee was formed to support social and emotional needs, as well as the character development of district students.

The committee has only met a handful of times since October, but has accomplished much in a short time.

The committee kicked off with an anti-bullying poster contest where students promoted friendship, character education, and anti-bullying methods.

The first few meetings were dedicated to establishing goals. Those included:  strengthening communication between the schools and the parents and community at large; providing parent training and resources on social and emotional topics; and reducing student suspension and discipline incidents.

To improve communication, said Gail Duffy, committee member and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, changes were made to the district web site. Dignity for all Students Act (DASA) forms are now more easily accessible to students or parents, should a child be dealing with an issue and need support. The web site also includes instructions for parents to follow if their child comes home with a concern. School initiatives are being shared and parents and community members are being invited to participate.

Duffy describes the second goal as the most exciting part of the committee. In an effort to provide resources on social and emotional topics, two workshops have been organized. The first, in January, dealt with poverty, and the second, held in February, addressed the new language of drugs. State Trooper Craig Vedder came back to Cornwall High School, at 7 p.m. on April 4, for an encore presentation. Vedder made a presentation to eighth graders last month. He spoke to them about making the best choices now which will have a positive impact in high school and beyond.

Last month, Monroe-Woodbury High School hosted a screening of the movie “Screenagers,” which addresses the amount of time teens spend looking at screens. Duffy said committee members planned to attend. For the fall, the committee is looking to organize a workshop on nutrition and exercise. Duffy said community workshops will continue.

In terms of suspension and discipline incidents, the committee has reviewed a report on DASA related incidents and suspensions, as well as discussed programs the district has in place. Discussions will continue in June. Director of guidance, Susan Cooney will make a future presentation to the committee.

The committee meets monthly and meetings are not open to the public. Minutes from the meeting, however, are posted on the district web site following each session.

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Jason Kaplan