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Nina Michaels

Special Correspondent

This year, Holliston High School administration has been working to improve the teachers’ understanding of students’ social and emotional well-being and the effects it can have inside the classroom during some Professional Development Days and during faculty meetings.

On the first day of school for teachers, administration invited Psychologist Dr. Nami Turk to present information on how to connect with students in order to assist them better in the classroom.

Dr. Turk introduced the idea of balance including emotional control, inhibiting, shifting, monitoring, planning, organizing, initiating, and working memory.

Margaret Camire, Holliston’s Director of Student Services, said that being able to recognize when something from one of those categories is off balance and how to adjust it is key to social and emotional success.

Holliston is also putting to use a strategy known as “the zones.” There are four zones. First, there is blue, which is low alertness levels and low emotions, such as sad or sick. Green is a neutral or calm state. Yellow is heightened alertness and emotions such as stress or anxiety. Last is red which is extremely high alertness and heightened emotions such as anger or terror.

According to cwtherapy.com, it is extremely important for kids in all grades to understand which zone they are in depending on their feelings and behaviors, and to know how to adjust.

Holliston’s Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sarah Ahern said in an email interview, “I think there are potentially a lot of stressors for students during the school day. Time management, pressure from parents, self, and teachers, social media, and relationships with peers and family.”

Dr. Ahern said that to get the ball rolling, Holliston is first building an awareness among teachers about their role in promoting student well-being.

Teachers are being sent to different conferences in order to get a better understanding of social and emotional issues students face today.

The Accept Collaborative is a five part mental health series that eight of our K-12 teachers have been sent to. This is one way administration is looking into how to create a safe place during the school day for students to learn and understand how to deal with the issues they face on a daily basis.

So far, the High School uses the Friday advisory periods to teach kids different coping strategies.

School leaders are also “Creating a stress free task force made up of parents, teachers, and administration to better combat student stress,” Mrs. Camire said.

In an email the School Committee sent out to the group, it was noted that the stress task force was developed by superintendent Dr. Brad Jackson, in order to address the issue of student stress in our community. The group addresses healthy vs. unhealthy stress, anxiety, sources of stress, and actions to help students cope better with stress.

Mrs. Camire and Dr. Ahern said Holliston will be looking into student data in order to create an emotionally safe environment where students can openly express their issues and concerns while continuing to advance through the school day.

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