All CCSD school nurses, as well as CCSD’s three lead nurses, participated in suicide prevention training this week to improve their ability to identify students at risk and ensure they receive needed support.
The Cherokee County School District is focused on further improving suicide prevention training for its staff and offering more support to students in need.
This important issue long has been a part of professional development for staff, but CCSD is increasing its training and programs in response to the national rise in teen suicide rates, as well as the tragic deaths of students, teachers and parents in the community.
The School District on Monday with the GBI co-hosted a summit open to the public to help the state’s top law enforcement agency begin a statewide community dialogue. CCSD promoted the event on its website, social media and parent newsletter, and local media helped share the news.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower was among the speakers who participated in the event, which was attended by dozens of CCSD leaders, teachers and counselors, as well as many parents and community members.
“It will take our entire community working together to help these children and their families,” Dr. Hightower said. “As our community’s school system, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. We’re dedicated to continuously improving how we prepare our staff and how we counsel our students, and we’re developing an online ‘toolkit’ that we’ll share with parents next month. Every loss of a life to suicide breaks my heart and devastates our entire CCSD family. We know that together, as a community, we can do more.”
CCSD this week also conducted two large training sessions: one with all school nurses, and the other with all school counselors, which was the second in a series of meetings focused on how counselors can better identify students at risk and provide them with support and resources.
These trainings and others that have been held in recent weeks are part of the CCSD Office of School Operations’ efforts to improve the preparedness of everyone in schools -- counselors, school nurses, social workers, psychologists, teachers, administrators. This preparedness includes a stronger ability to recognize the signs of a student in crisis and take appropriate steps to help, as well as to concurrently develop more ways for students to feel connected to their school and know caring adult mentors are there for them.
The School District’s SafeSchools Alert system launched earlier this school year, and the accompanying smartphone app that was announced this week, may be most familiar to parents as a way to report school safety concerns, but this system also is a suicide prevention tool.
All students, parents, staff and anyone in the community are encouraged to use SafeSchools Alert to report, with the option to do so anonymously, concerns about a student who may be at risk and needs help. These alerts are monitored by CCSD School Police and administrators, but do not replace 911 if there is an immediate threat to the safety of a school or an individual student.
Information on how to use SafeSchools Alert is posted on the CCSD website here; informational posters are displayed in all schools, stickers are posted inside all school buses, and videos are available on our YouTube Channel here.
ACE Academy School Nurse Pam Tomeny speaks during the suicide prevention training for CCSD school nurses this week.