The Chagrin Valley Conference has a tradition of excellence on the fields and courts around Northeast Ohio but athletics soon will take a backseat to emotional and social well-being.
On March 5, the CVC will host a Mental Health Summit at Beachwood High School. The event will bring together superintendents, principals and other administrators, guidance counselors, school board members and other personnel from all 23 conference schools who have direct connections to students.
“It’s more important than I think we even know at this point,” Berkshire principal Michael King said of the importance of the Mental Health Summit. “I think we’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg with social and emotional issues because they’re becoming more and more apparent and more and more widespread throughout different populations of our student body.”
King is one of many driving forces behind the Mental Health Summit.
The purpose of the event is to better educate school personnel, administrators and Board of Education members and to provide the resources that can be used to meet the needs of their students and their communities.
“We are all dealing with mental health in a wide variety of ranges,” said Beachwood Athletic Director Ryan Peters, who will chair the event. “Whether it’s a kid upset about something that transpired at school or at home to dealing with teen suicides, we felt the need to come together to better educate ourselves as well as other staff members.”
Last year, the CVC principals formed a Mental Health Summit committee to initiate this Summit.
Representatives from each school have provided input and now are ready to implement a Regional Crisis Management team within the Chagrin Valley Conference.
“The goal is to create this regional crisis team so when tragedy strikes, we’ll all have these resources available,” Peters said. “We’d have the ability to send resources from our school, such as counselors, to that school to assist them in dealing with the crisis and vice-versa.”
Some schools already have established a plan for how to cope with a crisis and some don’t yet have a plan. As a group, the CVC schools will now work together to strengthen those individual plans and to provide each school within the conference even more education, resources and information.
Peters experienced firsthand just how such a plan could make an impact when several years ago the Beachwood community faced a tragedy.
“A few years ago we had a student pass away,” Peters said. “He was a swimmer and the support we received from the Chagrin Valley Conference swimming community and the Hawken community in particular, made the grieving process more manageable for our swimming community.”
Keynote speaker Shannon Ortiz, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Light after Loss, will open the Summit. Light of Loss provides support and resources to survivors of suicide and loss.
Laura Serazin, a counselor and therapist at Cornerstone of Hope, also will address all attendees to discuss the CVC Regional Crisis team and its next steps.
“We have a drive for knowledge here, especially with social and emotional well-being,” King said. “As school systems, we’re at the frontline because we see the students for a large part of the day. By the CVC coming together and formulating this day, I think it’s incredibly important that we share our resources and get as much information as possible to help our students work with the social and emotional world that is around them.”
Following the initial group sessions, each attendee will have the opportunity to sit in on a number of different breakout sessions hosted by Ms. Ortiz, Dr. Theresa Rogers and Sara Satterlee, a licensed school counselor, Kirtland teacher and football coach Tiger LaVerde and Kirtland counselor Mary LaVerde.
Eric Johnson, a partner at Walter Haverfield, will provide the group with an update on the roles and responsibilities of schools.
“There are some major component speakers and then some a la carte sessions where if schools are having specific issues they can target one of those,” King said. “There also is time during lunch for school counselors, school principals, board members, etc., to discuss and each table would be provided with some topics to help generate the discussion between school to school and department to department.”
The day concludes with another breakout session on Navigating Your Student Back Into the School Community by Dr. Leslie McNamara and the Formation of the Regional Crisis Team & Next Steps with your District and Conference by Laura Serazin.
“There is a little bit of time for reflection,” King said. “Each district will be given some space where they can meet as a district and bring back together all of what they’ve heard and if they need to ask any follow-up questions of other schools or any of the speakers, that’s a great time to make that happen.”