Return to Headlines

District puts focus on social-emotional matters

student with no bullying shirt holding hand out to say stopMillbrook, like many districts nationwide, has seen an increase in incidents that involve social-emotional issues. In fact, during the May 17, 2022, Board of Education meeting, a presentation on Social Emotional Learning showed national numbers indicating increases in feelings of sadness, considering suicide and attempted suicide among In addition, less than 47 percent of students nationally reported feeling connected to school during the pandemic.

This month, Superintendent Laura Mitchell launched the Climate and Culture Committee to help ensure all students and staff feel safe and welcome. The first meeting - held on June 16 - had 18 people in attendance with representation from teachers, administrators, parents/guardians, a board member, the Parent Teacher Organization, Millbrook Education Foundation and a student. In addition, surveys were sent out to families and staff June 17. Students in grades 3-8 will be given time during school to fill it out and copies will be emailed to high school students.

These surveys are optional, confidential, and anonymous. Results will be analyzed and used to inform our climate and culture work and will be shared with the community. 

But the committee is just one element of a multipronged approach.

Assemblies help educate

Last month, representatives of Grace Smith House gave an assembly at Millbrook High School on May 17 providing helpful information to help combat bullying.

Grace Smith House’s Prevention and Education Team have long-standing relationships with Dutchess County middle and high schools. In 2021, the organization educated 2,800 middle and high school students and offers a variety of trainings from cyberbullying to teen dating violence, according to the organization’s website.

School administration is looking to support all students with social emotional learning issues and they reached out to a number of organizations to see if they would be willing to come and provide students and staff with useful information.

Grace Smith Director of Outreach and Support Services Kim Dangerfield presented information about the organization’s 24-hour hotline, counseling services and support groups. She identified the characteristics of bullying and discussed impacts bullying and cyberbullying has on children.

Principal Eric Seipp and the entire high school staff participated in the assembly and plan to apply lessons they learned during it into the everyday procedures such as daily check-ins and monitoring how students are feeling throughout the day.

“We have heard from students and families about the need to provide these educational opportunities,” Seipp said. “We are always supporting our students during these challenging times.”

Another presentation from the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education (CAPE) recently addressed the issues of drug use and vaping.

Next year, the district is planning to add a CAPE counselor who will be in the district every day and an administrator with a focus on social-emotional learning and exploring the use of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.