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Region 7 specialists offer mental health, school safety sessions for East Texas educators

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Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 3:45 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 8:37 PM CDT
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KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - Region 7 Education Service Center says they are taking a proactive approach to school safety and mental health. They are offering workshops for their 101 school districts throughout the summer, as well as the rest of the year.

Region 7 Assistant Deputy Director for State and Federal Programs Viki Sparks, Region 7 Professional School Counselor Specialist Dana Harper, and Region 7 Executive Director Todd Schneider, all agree that the Uvalde shootings brought school security to the forefront.

“We had already started focusing on school safety two years ago out of the eighty-sixth legislation, and also the crisis in Santa Fe really heightened the need for our district and the need for our students,” Sparks said.

“Our state actually took a very proactive approach and they put something in place called the Safe and Supportive Schools Program. And part of that programming requires by law for us to be proactive,” Harper said.

“Do you find that you’re customizing your plans a little bit per school district?” I asked Director Todd Schneider.

“We have to. It’s one of the major things we do here at the service center. We want to know each one of our districts, and what their needs are and how we can support them in whatever their challenges are,” Schneider said.

Classes for educators in their districts are evolving with the times, and many attend the:

“Sessions that help our districts become better at the physical side of safety as well as the psychological side of safety,” Harper said.

With Region 7′s help school districts:

“Have created their own emergency operation plans which is really part of the legislative act. But we also here at the service center review their plans to make sure the plans are functional,” Sparks said.

“That is ever-changing though, just like everything else is,” Schneider said.

The all agree it’s important to keep communications open and do their best to anticipate what’s around the corner.

Region 7 says the training sessions they offer are on a variety of topics but have put a stronger focus on safety and mental health in the last few years.

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