The ESU Chair of Psychology offers academic training in the event of a crisis | To free

Emporia State University Psychology Department Chairman Jim Persinger led various school professionals through his PREPaRE training to deal with crises at Visser Hall Schools on the ESU campus on Thursday and last Friday.

The training was funded by a $ 23,610 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to equip school crisis response and recovery teams to help Kansas youth face inevitable crises.

“This is training in crisis response and recovery, and it is part of a larger set of socio-emotional learning opportunities, workshops, etc. that will continue for at least one year, ”Persinger said. “This particular aspect is to help school crisis team members understand their roles and fulfill their responsibilities in helping schools and students recover from a serious crisis.”

Persinger said a common crisis event is the death of a student by suicide, saying current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 99 kids in Kindergarten to Grade 12 commit suicide each year in Kansas. There is a similar proportion of suicide deaths among teachers and school staff. Other common crises are accidents and natural disasters such as tornadoes.

“Very interesting, very few states, including Kansas, have crisis plans, let alone crisis teams,” Persinger said. “So, generally speaking, they are not dealing with the crisis. So it’s about helping people know that there is a way to get back to normal after a tragic event that helps people heal. “

According to Persinger, when crisis events are managed appropriately by well-prepared school teams, it reduces the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression, and suicide after a tragedy.

Best practices, said Persinger, are to bring together a team of professionals with varying skills and roles to support students. It teaches staff how to sort out those most likely to be psychologically affected by the crisis and how to directly address that person’s needs through targeted interventions.

“It can be as simple as a series of class meetings to share the facts and how to get help through… a higher level where we know something bad has happened and we do a debriefing with the students. students, ”he said. “Here is how it might make you feel, here are some steps you can take to take care of yourself, and here is how to take care of your friends. “

A variety of Kansas school staff attended Persinger’s training, which he said was a somewhat new and exciting experience.

“This is the optimal group and I don’t always get the optimal group,” he said. “Typical people who come forward are that all counselors come forward. If this is what presents itself, you are wrong, because it is a multidisciplinary team. Here is who introduced herself this time: the school resources manager, the school nurse, the school psychologist, the principal and the teachers. Teams have come forward that will really be able to do it the right way. “

Persinger said he plans to do more of these types of training statewide to help school staff be legitimately prepared to deal with crises in their schools and believes this type of education should be a priority.

“We are really spending a lot of resources on things that actually affect very few children or have almost no likelihood of affecting them,” he said. “But the kind of stuff we’re learning here affects almost – not nearly all – Kansas school districts, no matter how small.”

As an example, Persinger referred to the annual state-required training on how to clean up vomit, which involves training in using equipment that many schools don’t even have.

“[School districts] will have deaths every year in accidents and suicides of parents and children, and we usually don’t get the type of training we need to handle these very well, but we do a lot of other training in the schools that don’t bear much fruit, “he said.

Persinger said that while graduation rates are typically used to gauge how well schools are serving their students, improved socio-emotional support should be recognized as the real foundation for academic success.

“We’re finally coming to realize that if you really want to improve all of these things, focus on socio-emotional learning, because so many children struggle on a daily basis with so many other variables that affect their readiness to learn,” he said. said.


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