Students and staff at Spokane School District learn to be resilient through new program

Students and staff of the Spokane Public School District, along with West Valley District, are learning how to be more resilient.

This is through the Resilience in School Environments (RISE) program. They’re working with Kaiser Permanente to bring this to the school district.

There will be a person working with students, teachers and the staff to understand stress they may face at home and at school. That professional will help the school find ways to have a more positive school environment and give them resources.

“We are excited to tap into RISE as a continuation of our focus on the wellness of our students and staff. It is one more way to achieve our goal to increase each student’s achievement at every level, in every classroom. It strengthens our commitment to prepare students to follow any pathway they desire after graduation,” said Shelley Redinger, the Spokane Public Schools superintendent in a statement.

The RISE program also looks at reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs). That includes abuse, neglect and other issues that come from the home, that could impact a student to do well in school.

“Some kids, just kids, right? Normal kid problems, ‘Who’s my friend today?’ or ‘My feelings got hurt,'” explained Rachel Sherwood, the principal of Bemiss Elementary.

In her 20 years in education, she’s seen students have problems that are not the norm for a kid.

“A lot of our students are struggling with ‘Is the water turned on?’ Families that are dealing with substance abuse, ‘Are they sober? Are they around?'” she continued.

Kids who go through those experiences might not be able to focus in the classroom so well.

“Kids are well aware of when their parents are stressed with different things and that impacts them as well,” Sherwood said.

Students aren’t the only focus, too.

The heart of it all, it’s the teachers who influence the kids.

“It’s a hard job. It’s the best job, it is absolutely the best job, but it’s a very intense job as well,” Sherwood said.

The program will have on-site intervention and different resources for teachers and other staff to manage their own stress and have mental health support systems.

“Just as I underscore the importance of self-care for the parents of the children I care for, it’s important that schools prioritize well-being for school teachers, staff, and administrators in order to be most effective in helping children learn and succeed,” said Dr. Cicely White, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente.

The school is just starting the program and still have a ways to go.

“I was excited to partner with some community resources, because I know we can’t do it alone,” Sherwood said.

To learn more about the Kaiser Permanente RISE program, click here.