Last month, NCSBA gave its 2019 Award for Excellence in Educational Programs to the Cabarrus County Schools (CCS) Board of Education. The district’s forward-thinking approach to student safety and well-being was celebrated during the Association’s annual awards ceremony.
With the help of a $4 million grant, CCS has spent the last five years developing a multi-tiered system of support that includes a focus on the social-emotional and physical safety needs of students. In 2016 the school system adopted the National Association of School Psychologists’ PREPaRE curriculum, which consists of evidence-based resources and consultation related to school crisis prevention, intervention, response, and recovery. This led to a districtwide shift in its approach to student safety.
CCS restructured its service framework and invested in training and development for its mental health professionals on PREPaRE, Mental Health First Aid, QPR Suicide Prevention training, Resources for Resilience, and Trauma Toolkit, to name a few. The result is a highly skilled and collaborative multi-disciplinary mental health team at every school, comprised of counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and resource officers. These teams assist administrators with conducting threat assessments for students; performing universal screening, providing direct and indirect interventions and progress monitoring to support identified areas of need; and providing training to staff, students, and the community on prevention and intervention around mental health needs.
In addition, the board added a director of student safety and well-being to its leadership team who is responsible for collaborating across departments to ensure the success of this work. CCS board members participate in safety audits, are trained in the PREPaRE curriculum, participate on the CCS Safety Committee, and continuously advocate for the safety of students. The governance team has always emphasized safety as a top priority. When the community and students feel safe in their learning environment, students are able to focus on their studies and excel.
The CCS Safety Committee developed a back-to-school safety video titled, See You Tomorrow, as a helpful tool to spread their message of and interest in creating a positive educational environment for each student.