In order to educate children today, we have to meet the needs of the whole child. In Hattiesburg Public Schools we have formed many partnerships to address the needs of our children, both in the classroom and elsewhere, to help them be better able to learn. These partnerships help bridge the gaps related to mental health, physical well-being, social and emotional development, dental health and basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. These needs must be met or addressed in order for teaching and learning to take place.
In education, we operate in a world that is heavily tested and measured by scores and outcomes. This often can lead people to think only of a school and students in terms of their scores. But, if we want our students to perform well and maintain a high score, we must first tackle the obstacles that exist in their lives that hinder learning. In order to do that I have recently changed the focus of our school counselors, so that they can help connect some of the various support available in the schools and the community to the students who need that service and support. Our counselors had previously been used as test coordinators, among other things, for schools, but no longer! I want our counselors to be able to focus on serving children and their many needs. Their excitement and enthusiasm at this new change tells me they agree. When students are healthy and feel good about themselves, their focus can be on learning and great things can happen in the classroom.
James Q. Bacchus