Daria Milovanova staff writer
Assistant principal Dr. Jill Hunt points out that NormanAid is a helpful resource for anyone who needs mental health support on issues related to stress, anxiety, substance abuse and other problems. The team of counseling interns from local universities and professional counselors for the Maple Counseling Center are readily available to assist students if they need counseling, conflict mediation or crisis management.
“NormanAid is really our best resource for mental health…Students can go online and set up their own appointments. They can request individual chats or individual teleconferencing for counseling. There are also a number of group counseling resources that are set up through NormanAid,” Hunt said.
Some students’ mental health might become an obstacle in a classroom. In that case, the teachers may allow students certain accommodations in the classroom.
“If a student has major anxiety and it impacts them in the classroom, like sometimes some of our students truly cannot stand in front of a class or the camera and present, we’ll make accommodations and get support from the teachers,” school counselor and founder of NormanAid Wellness Center Alison Norman-Franks said. “Maybe they can videotape themselves and send it privately to the teacher. Or they could meet the teacher during lunchtime or after school and do the presentation privately one-on-one with the teacher.”
When a student’s mental health impacts their academic performance, the student can reach out to a teacher or their counselor for a referral to hold an SST meeting. The meetings consist of the student, their parent or legal guardian, assistant principal Dr. Hunt and a school psychologist. The meeting evaluates the student’s academic performance and the emotional and psychological factors that are impacting it. Based on the student’s needs, the SST may create an individualized 504 plan, a customized educational plan with accommodations to address the student’s needs, or refer the student to be evaluated for special education services eligibility.
“The Student Success Team meeting—that’s the first step in supporting a student. [It is] just an opportunity for us all to get together and talk about the student with the parents…we would ask questions [about] what’s going on with a student, what they feel is impacting them,” Norman-Franks said. “Then we would brainstorm together with all our different expertise on interventions and support plans that we could put into place to help them. Sometimes that does include a 504 [plan], sometimes that is a special ed evaluation. And sometimes it’s just reaching out to the teachers to ask for additional support from the classroom. So it ranges depending on the need of the child and what they could qualify for in terms of services.”
Norman-Franks feels that students are not always aware of the many resources Beverly provides for support. She expresses that even in these situations the Beverly staff is attentive to the needs of the students and is ready to support them.
“It’s something that not always students are aware of, but the hopes would be that even if they’re not aware of it that their school counselor or their teacher would recognize that they need that support and they would make the referral for them to have to attend [the SST] meeting,” Norman-Franks said.