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Posted: January 17, 2017

Handle with Care

Supt. Reedy shares information on a program designed to assist students in crisis.

Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself if we’re doing enough for our students. I bet you do, too. In a few days, our state lawmakers will be grappling with that very question as the 2017 Legislature goes into session.

While we may not always agree on strategy when it comes to public education, I believe we want what’s best for all students, including the most vulnerable who face difficult life circumstances.

That's why I'm pleased to tell you about a new initiative we will be piloting this spring, the Handle With Care program. It’s pretty straight forward: First responders like police officers and firefighters will notify our police chief when they respond to a crisis that has impacted one of our students. Our Police Department will then pass that information on to school officials who can help support the child.

Dr. Kris Meurer, Executive Director of the APS Student, Family and Community Support Office, explains how this will work: "First responders won’t give details as to what may have happened, but will provide the school’s principal, counselors, nurses and teachers a head's up that a student may act differently. So, instead of sending a kid to the principal’s office for not paying attention in class, the teacher may send that student to the nurse’s office for a nap or take the time to engage the student in a candid conversation. Our response is always better when we’re informed.”

This initiative addresses one of our goals in the Academic Master Plan: to meet the needs of the whole child. We know students can’t learn if they’re experiencing extreme stress. We know school is the safest place for many of our students. We worry about them at the end of the school day, week and year because we can only imagine what their life off campus may be like.

Now we’ve found a way to help ease their pain, and all it costs is a little time and effort on the part of adults who care.

I’ve seen first-hand how professional and empathetic school staff can be when they're aware of the hardships faced by children. The protocol for Handle With Care ensures the school will be informed more often about incidents that could impact a student’s behavior, mood or performance in class.

I’d like to thank Bernalillo County and Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins for bringing this idea to us. As I said, we're committed to meeting the needs of the whole child, and this is a perfect example of how we can do that.

By the way, Albuquerque Public Schools is very connected in this community. If you have a specific area of interest in the education arena, it’s very likely we have a group for you. Please contact the Communications Office at 880-3734 if you’d like to learn more.

We have a lot to look forward to in 2017. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with you in a new year full of possibilities.