(Posted May 25, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Madison-Plains school district officials are pursuing new ways to help students and staff who are struggling emotionally.
According to Superintendent Chad Eisler, many students are dealing with a wide array of tough issues, some of which pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic and some caused or worsened by the pandemic. Teachers say more and more students are approaching them to talk privately. Teachers are struggling with how to help students and what they bring with them to school. Teachers, themselves, are dealing with their own emotional struggles.
Eisler is hopeful that a budding partnership with Rocking Horse Community Health Center could provide support and resources for those in need.
Rocking Horse provides health and wellness services to people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay. Headquartered in Springfield, the center has four locations, including one in London at 212 N. Main St.
Eisler got the idea to form a partnership with Rocking Horse and set up a virtual meeting in April between representatives of the center and the school district’s administrative staff. On May 16, the Rocking Horse team met with teachers on the Madison-Plains campus. A total of 21 teachers participated, providing input and asking questions.
“The next step is to develop a short survey to get more input from teachers,” Eisler said. “The goal is to get together to talk about what supports we can put into place, hopefully for next school year, for students and staff.”
Eisler said the district might also offer after-school programs for parents who could benefit from Rocking Horse’s services.
In other health and wellness efforts, Madison-Plains is updating its wellness policy, as required by law. The policy addresses areas such as nutrition, physical education, physical activity and recordkeeping.
The wellness committee currently consists of eight school administrators and staff and meets three times a year. Eisler said he would like to see a school board member on the committee. Sherri Allen, food service supervisor and wellness committee leader, welcomes others to join the committee, too.
Allen noted that teacher Kim Bergsten has volunteered to form a student nutrition council this fall to work hand-in-hand with the wellness committee.
After-School Child Care
Eisler recently met with representatives of the Procter Center in London. The retreat, camp, farm and event facility is looking to provide after-school childcare.
“We’re going to try to get information home to students and parents and guardians about what that program would be,” Eisler said. “They have some good things in place, I think, and are looking to expand children’s learning beyond the four walls of school.”
The Procter Center is developing ideas that involve agriculture, healthy eating, and physical activity as part of after-school childcare programming. They also hope to hold a weekly family meal with eat-in and carryout options.