Administration’s Role in Student’s Mental Well Being
Following the death of her close friend, Addison Bricker, junior, wanted to do something special in remembrance, so she reached out to Junior Principal Carl Hudson.
Bricker was hoping to talk about her friend’s passing at an event with a large crowd such as a football game; however, she was turned down. Bricker said she was told she could hang a banner instead.
“This rubbed me the wrong way because I knew my friend was worth more than a banner hanging from the top floor of Marquette,” Bricker said.
Bricker said she found herself alarmed by the fact the school turned down her idea due to the increased mental health issues recently. She said she hopes more mental health discussions will exist in the future at MHS and that more students passionate about this topic will speak up.
Hudson said he explained to Bricker that honoring her friend in the way she suggested was not something that could easily be arranged. Not only the district but also the student’s parents would have to approve.
Generally, Hudson said he supports ideas to give remembrance to students who have passed, but he saw it unfit to give remembrance to the student at a football game because they had no relation to that sport.
Hudson said he has developed good relationships with many students so they can feel comfortable to come to him with issues, but not all students are willing to open up. He said the school also has surveyed students to make sure they have at least one trusted adult in the building with whom they can talk to.
“There are a lot of issues students are dealing with in their personal and professional lives and the school is always willing to listen and help where we can,” Hudson said.
As an administrator, Hudson said he addresses the death of RSD students and staff by giving people time to grieve and honoring the person who passed with a moment of silence. After a short period of time, he works with other staff in the building to bring back normalcy.
Hudson said the district also has provided all students with resources to improve mental health but most students don’t take advantage of those opportunities.
“I, myself, am not professionally trained in the topic but the majority of sources offered by the district probably our students never see and never attend and we can’t force students to come,” Hudson said.
Dr. Terry Harris, executive director of student services, said the administration still has a lot to learn when addressing student or staff deaths.
After any passing, Dr. Harris said RSD gives students time to grieve, space to unleash their feelings and a means to normalize having emotions.
Counselors and other professionals are brought in the day following the passing to help students communicate their feelings. He said it is the administrators’ job to give students language around emotional literacy in order to convey their spectrum of emotions.
“Mental health is not like math and science with an obvious solution, but grey in the middle, so we can’t go back to normal after knowing a Mustang is no longer here and never walk these halls again,” Dr. Harris said.
To prevent traumas and for students and staff to get help, Dr. Harris said RSD provides a multitude of resources; however, they are meaningless if the administration is not loud and clear about informing students about what they offer.
Dr. Harris said RSD’s resources are often overlooked by students because it’s like watching a movie your parent’s picked out for you; similarly, the resources are only picked out by the admin and don’t necessarily meet the student’s necessities.
In the future, he said the administration should lead discussions that incorporate student’s perspectives and their ideas on what RSD should provide.
“Young people can organize, strategize and mobilize so we should give them the ability to design resources because they know what their peers need,” Dr. Harris said
Dr. Harris said we can’t say we are doing everything we can when a kid is no longer here. He said for years and years educating students has been the central focus, but now it’s time for the administration to dedicate student’s emotional safety as their first priority.
“Marquette’s rigorous education and academics are the point of pride, but I want people to first praise us for keeping our students happy and then praise our curriculum,” Dr. Harris said.
Lajja Patel, junior, is a staff reporter for the Marquette Messenger. This will be her first full school year on staff. Lajja also plays lacrosse. In her...