In 2013 the Legislature passed LB 556 that directed BHECN to provide behavioral health training for educators in three pilot areas. The areas selected were Columbus/Norfolk, Omaha, and the Panhandle. On October 30, BHECN and Educational Service Unit 13 hosted an all-day conference titled “Behavioral Health in the Classroom Setting.”
The conference speaker was Catherine Jones-Hazeldine, Ph.D., a child psychologist from Rushville and a fixture in Panhandle communities. Those in this area of the state refer to her simply as "Dr. Cate."
Over 40 participants gathered at the ESU 13 building in Scottsbluff for the training conference and additional educators participated online via live streaming. The conference was attended by school nurses, school psychologists, school counselors, special education staff and principals from throughout ESU 13 which extends across most of the Panhandle.
Dr. Cate knew many of the conference attendees from previous interactions and consultations. She commented to a few conference attendees, “I'm glad to finally meet you in person!"
Dr. Cate asked the group to talk about what they hoped to gain from the conference. Many shared that they wanted to learn new ways to help students with a behavioral health concerns. Comments included:
- "What we're doing now isn't working"
- "I need some reinforcement to know that I am doing the right thing"
- "I want to have some ideas to show parents when they ask 'what do I do?' 'where do I go'?"
- "I want to give kids confidence that they are part of our society...they are just as capable as anyone else"
- "Some teachers don't understand that getting in their face and yelling will not work....don't understand how difficult it is to learn when you have ADHD"
- "We need to help paraprofessionals avoid compassion fatigue...they have the biggest impact...they are with the kids all day long"
Dr. Cate said that the most important thing school staff can do for a young person with a behavioral health impairment is establish a relationship. Skills that teachers use with all students like, making eye contact, greeting students, giving specific positive feedback, teaching organization skills and problem solving are even more critical for the student with a behavioral health problem. These simple skills can also make the biggest impact. Dr. Cate also shared a great deal of specific techniques to be used in the classroom. These varied based on the age of the child and other factors including the type of behavioral health diagnosis.
If you couldn’t make the training or want to review some of the materials, Dr. Cate has shared her presentations and a few resources.
- Presentation: Working with Students with Behavioral Health Concerns
- Presentation: Working with Kids with Challenging Behaviors
- Presentation: Bullying
- Tough Kid Tool Box Available at Amazon
- TED Talk: Confessions of a Depressed Comic http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_breel_confessions_of_a_depressed_comic
Educators in the Panhandle have identified behavioral health topics of interest and BHECN will continue to work with them to plan trainings. We hope to provide webinar and on-demand options for future sessions.