Lompoc Unified School District has partnered with the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools to address students' mental wellness across its campuses. Sophia Vega leads fellow students at Hapgood Elementary School during a run on the new track and field on campus in this 2020 photo file.
Lompoc Unified School District has partnered with the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools alongside 15 other school districts in the country to promote safe campuses with elevated mental health support systems and measures to ensure equity among students and staff.
LUSD Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, Brian Jaramillo, said because social-emotional learning is an essential aspect of education, the district is excited to join the collaborative in an effort to help students better achieve their goals.
“Lompoc Unified School District is thankful for this opportunity to partner with the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools so that all students and staff feel safe physically, emotionally, and mentally," he added.
Dubbed "NCS3," the collaborative network which teams with school districts around the nation will guide a second wave of 16 participants through a two-year learning process that addresses how schools can better promote equity and well-being for all students and staff.
More specifically, the program aims to improve the integration of "trauma-informed strategies and healing-centered schools" (TIS) and C.A.R.E. — "Cultural Responsiveness, Anti-Racism, and Equity" — as part of a roll out of a comprehensive mental health system.
"The NCS3 is eager to work with these districts to support the implementation of equitable, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed school mental health," said Dr. Sharon Hoover, NCS3 principal investigator and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"Students and staff need support for their well-being now more than ever. By applying to participate in the S3 Learning Collaborative, these 16 districts have demonstrated a commitment to promoting safe supportive schools in their communities," Hoover said.
Participating districts and schools will receive support from NCS3 via monthly virtual learning sessions for district teams, quarterly training and facilitated discussion for school staff, and ongoing technical assistance and training from national experts, according to program guidelines.
"Learning to help staff and students heal from the effects of trauma is central to our role as educators," said Dr. Clara Finneran, LUSD superintendent, "so that students can achieve career and college readiness and move on to live full and engaging lives."
Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.