This press release first appeared in the Chestertown Spy on December 25th, 2023. A copy of the publication can be found here.
CHESTERTOWN — Radcliffe Creek School (RCS) was recently awarded a grant from the Queen Anne’s County Mental Health Committee (QACMHC) to expand its social-emotional learning curriculum. The new funding will broaden the robust curriculum already in place for younger students, bringing social-emotional resources to older students and their parents, as well as to the local community.
Social-emotional skills serve as a guide for people to understand social situations and relationships: these abilities are central to navigating the world successfully in everyday life. Debbie Cohee-Wright, a special education learning specialist at RCS explained, “If a child has a mental health issue of any kind, such as trauma, depression or anxiety, their ability to learn and access information is compromised. For a student to be available for learning, they must first feel emotionally safe. Making connections with teachers and peers and building trust with others must happen before the focus on academics can take place.”
Currently, the school’s social-emotional learning program encompasses two curriculums targeted to younger students who are identified as needing support to strengthen these skills. The program, administered by Intervention Transition Skills Coach Bryn Ponti, utilizes fun, engaging activities that integrate kid-friendly themes: kids imagine themselves as detectives who look for clues in their environment or as superheroes who earn superpowers, all while learning about executive functioning, perspective taking and self-regulation. Head of School Peter Thayer said, “At RCS, we always try to meet students where they are in their learning, and here, that includes their social-emotional wellbeing. This grant from QACMHC will make a considerable difference in the lives of our older students and their families, many of whom are neurodivergent and need extra support in this area.”
The funding provided by QACMHC will bring two additional curriculums — Brain Talk and Conscious Discipline — to the school, expanding its social-emotional programming to older students and their families. Brain Talk is a curriculum designed to teach students about the different areas of their brains, educating children about their executive function capabilities and how they impact responses to situations. Conscious Discipline is a course designed for teachers, parents and guardians, providing adults with tools to show children better ways to self-regulate and build resilience.
“These grants are made possible by community support of our fundraisers and through generous donations from local businesses and individuals,” said QACMHC President Kelly Phipps. ”We appreciate the outpouring of support whenever we have a fundraiser or ask for donations.”
In addition to the new resources this grant will provide to Radcliffe Creek School’s teachers, students and their families, the QACMHC grant will allow RCS to bring social-emotional programming to the local community as well. Planning is already underway to host an event for the public, bringing this important topic to local parents, teachers and residents in 2024.
“We are so grateful to QACMHC for their support of our school’s social-emotional learning program. These funds will directly impact our students’ mental health by supporting children both in the classroom and at home, leading to a more positive school environment, a greater sense of empowerment among our teachers and parents, and an increased sense of confidence in our children. We are excited to bring these resources to the Radcliffe Creek School community and beyond in 2024,” remarked Director of Advancement Carolyn Thompson.