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ICYMI: A Note From Southwestern High School, Indiana Superintendent, Mr. Joshua Edwards

March 08, 2023


"Words can not describe the excitement and honor of Southwestern Consolidated Schools to be recognized as a recipient of the Uvalde Foundation for Kids’ "Non-violent School Alliance Award."


Due to unfortunate circumstances within our great country, education has been forced into a paradigm shift with increased focus on preventing school violence in our nation's public schools. This violence prevention is a priority for Southwestern Consolidated Schools in a partnership with local and state governments throughout the United States. Our goal is to always be proactive in our approach to address the glaring issue of school violence.


Southwestern Consolidated School District has consistently focused on creating a physical safe environment while maintaining remote access communication with Shelby County Sheriff's Department to reduce response time in case of an incident, along with the most technically advanced doors and window hardware.


However, our district's focal point is educating children on how to deal with life’s challenges in a positive manner, with addressing mental health at the center of this nucleus. Key stakeholders in this educational process include Southwestern Consolidated School Corporation community members, staff, and students.

The implementation of several initiatives at our corporation leads the way in our endeavors to address educating our youth and their responses to adversity. Making positive connections with students and parents in our community is the driving force in our small and rural school district located in Shelby County, Indiana. One major way of increasing a positive school environment is by creating beneficial programs to promote meaningful relationships between students and staff.


Examples of interventions that focus on positive behaviors and social emotional responses began with the awarding of the Eli Lilly Endowment Comprehensive Counseling Initiative Grant to Southwestern Consolidated School District in 2018. Implementation of a research-based model, developed by the American Student Achievement Institute (ASAI), referred to as Guiding All Kids, is a wrap-around school counseling system in which all students are surrounded by caring and informed adults within all aspects of their life including school, community, organizations, and parents.


The Guiding All Kids model provides opportunities for our counselor, social worker, school staff, parents, and community organizations to deliver carefully coordinated guidance activities. The activities provided to students assist in making sound academic and social-emotional choices that lead to success in on-time post secondary completion and successful employment. There are weekly lessons in grades kindergarten through sixth which allows students opportunities to share their feelings and reactions concerning specific incidents and scenarios.


The “Bucket Filler” program at Southwestern Consolidated School District’s elementary school and the “S.H.I.E.L.D. Initiative” at the junior/senior high school are positive incentive programs that promote and encourage student success and reinforcement of appropriate student behaviors.

Southwestern Consolidated School District also recognizes the need for qualified mental health care providers. Within the last three (3) years, Southwestern has increased the number of these qualified individuals by employing a corporation social worker, a behavior interventionist, a school psychologist, and we have contracted with a mental health care provider on campus at each school building.


The addition of these staff members provides mental health assistance on campus, as well as other social and emotional supports to help our students dealing with the stresses in their daily lives. Our Crisis Response Team consists of the above-mentioned staff members, along with our administrative team, to provide support to staff and students following any tragic or emotional incident in our community.


On behalf of the Southwestern Consolidated School District, I again thank you for your tireless work and commitment to ending school violence in our nation’s educational facilities. You truly have a deep understanding of the needs in our schools. This is such an evolving dedication and we look forward to working with The Uvalde Foundation in the future years."


Sincerely,

Joshua A. Edwards

Superintendent

Southwestern Consolidated School District (Shelby County, Indiana)



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