NORTH LOGAN — School was out for students in Cache County on Friday, but the teachers were in.
Gathered at Green Canyon High School, they were there, in part, to get training on school safety.
It’s just one piece of a new mental health focus in the district, known as Project AWARE, which stands for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education.
Project AWARE grant manager Debbie Rees said as part of that effort, teachers will learn how to better understand trauma and take a course in mental health first aid.
“The classroom settings have changed. The needs that come to our classroom are different than they used to be,” Rees said. “We find more and more of our students are coming to school, suffering from depression, anxiety — and they have suicidal ideation.”
A former teacher of 20 years herself, Rees says it’s important for teachers and staff to know how to spot students in need and know how to reach out to them.
“We have to look beyond the surface of the behavior and see what’s really going on in that child’s life that’s causing the behavior,” Rees said.
To help with those efforts, two new counselors have been hired to help students and their families get the resources they may need, in finding counseling outside school.
Alayna Baker is one of those family facilitators and counselors.
“It has been quite overwhelming, as we’ve gotten the project started to see how many parents and students are trying to advocate for themselves,” Baker said. “Now that we’re here and we’re starting to look, people are starting to say this is really neat, and we really need these resources for these students.”
A $2 million grant will help get Project AWARE going over the next five years.
As part of the education program, the Cache County School District will hold a mental health screening for 7th through 12th grade, on April 10th, from 3 to 7 p.m., at their Legacy Campus.