Highland Park's Commitment to Mental Health

Highland Park's Commitment to Mental Wellness
Posted on 02/18/2018
Highland Park's Teen CenterThe Highland Park School District strongly affirms its believe that no child or young adult will ever succeed unless he/she feels connected to school, is loved by peers and adults, and knows that schools are about deep, sincere caring. Dr. Taylor echoed this commitment in the following New Jersey News 12 piece (click).

Below is just a snapshot of how our district has, in the last two years, greatly increased its focus on personal wellness: 

-We’re slowly but surely scaling back the “old school way” of punishing students who misbehave by building in ways we can reconnect kids to their school community and giving them the behavioral and mental health support they need to learn to make better decisions. The middle and high schools are in Year One of a three-year plan to move toward a “restorative practice” approach (https://www.iirp.edu/what-we-do/what-is-restorative-practices).

-We’re helping kids feel confident about themselves, strengthening their interpersonal skills, and encouraging them to have strong and healthy relationships with their peers. Responsive Classroom at Irving and Bartle (https://www.responsiveclassroom.org), the Bartle Social-Emotional Decision-Making Lab, and the soon-to-be launched Sources of Strength program at the middle and high schools (https://sourcesofstrength.org) are strategies to help in these areas.

-We’re enhancing everyone’s awareness and attitude about the different cultural traits our kids bring to school. Understanding our hidden biases, recognizing how we may inadvertently “microaggress” and identifying the influence of dominant “narratives” that may suppress kids’ identity are vital learnings in which we must continue to engage if we are to truly wrap our arms around all of our students so they feel a sense of belonging to the school community.