The Digital Paw Print
Newark City Schools Newsletter - March 2023
Meeting Students’ Social and Emotional Needs
By Superintendent David Lewis
Meeting the social and emotional needs of students has always been a priority in public education. This is a major component of the Whole Child Framework adopted by the Ohio Department of Education. As a result of the pandemic, meeting the social and emotional needs of our students has become essential. Many of our students are struggling with a variety of issues and we are committed to supporting the growth of all students. Before reaching their full potential academically, students must feel safe, accepted, and have an awareness of themselves and the environment around them.
This edition of the Paw Print is dedicated to social and emotional learning in the Newark City School District. We hope to inform you and shed light on many of the ways we are addressing the social and emotional needs of our students. We will continue these efforts, while exploring additional ways to serve the needs of all students. Three years ago, our district hired a full-time Wellness Coordinator, Mrs. Ronni Bowyer. We are blessed to have her working with our staff and students and leading the district in many of the initiatives contained in this publication. If you would like additional information, or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Go Wildcats!
It Takes a Village
By Ronni Bowyer, District Wellness Coordinator
As the old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes a village to educate one, too! When we all work together as a team, we can provide what our students need to learn and grow and reach their full potential academically and emotionally. All of us, children and adults, need to feel safe and accepted in order for learning to take place. More and more, feeling safe isn’t something any of us can take for granted, and that, along with many other variables, impacts our day to day interactions, stress levels, and mental health.
Social and emotional wellness is more important than ever. Here at Newark CIty Schools, we continuously strive to find ways to reach the hearts and minds of our students. Our Social, Emotional, and Academic Support (SEAS) Team is made up of qualified and caring individuals at every grade level to help students with the tools and strategies they need to grow socially and emotionally. Administrators, Teachers, and our friendly faces on the front line, work together with the SEAS Team to create an environment where students can feel comfortable asking for help when they need it, for themselves, or for a friend. Our goal is for everyone to know they are valued, supported, included, and personally accepted. Everyone.
We are not alone, and neither are our students! I encourage you to reach out to me or any SEAS Team member with questions or to share your ideas of how we can continue to meet the needs of our students and our community. As you explore this edition of the Paw Print, I hope you enjoy finding resources to help you and your family or classroom and finding ways you can become more involved. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to educate them, too! Join me in making our village the very best it can be!
Sources of Strength
Student leaders from a variety of backgrounds at Newark High School are pulling together to make school a better place for all through Sources of Strength, a youth mental health promotion and suicide prevention program built on the power of peer social networks.
“We share ideas about how to get more people involved and why they come to school and are happy about coming to school,” NHS senior Jamie Thornton said.
The more than 40 students involved in Sources of Strength range from freshmen to seniors, and are involved in activities from band to ROTC, athletics and more. They are nominated for the program by staff members or peers.
“We are doing our best to make sure we have leaders in all of the different social networks,” school counselor Scott Koebel. “It is the student voice that really drives the program.”
The students lead a variety of programming throughout the school year aimed at helping peers feel welcome at school, and to help them find trusted people to talk with. Trusted Adults and the We Belong campaigns are two of the students’ favorite campaigns so far.
“There are teachers that really do care about you and you can trust with your information,” junior Cory Hempleman said. “So we did a little social media contest where you would make a post with one of your trusted adults and you would fill out a paper with all your different trusted adults and basically just to let everyone know.”
For the We Belong campaign, the goal was to help all students feel a connection to something at Newark High School, junior Curtis Irby said.
“Everybody belongs in their own way, and everybody has something to provide to the table, to the school,” he said. “And that's what makes the high school what it is.”
The group created a variety of posters to encourage students. They created a snowflake display in a busy walkway in the school that emphasized students’ individuality.
Sources of Strength has been a positive program during its first year. The district plans to expand the program in future years to include additional campaigns and reach down into the middle schools.
Social and Emotional Learning Overview at NCS
At the national, state and local level, there has been an increased interest and emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Research shows that child anxiety more than doubled before 2020, and we are all very much aware that the pandemic had a significant impact on many people’s mental health, especially our children. The need for and benefits of SEL are extremely clear and well supported by research. We know from a large body of research on SEL that high-quality SEL programming leads to improved academic performance, decreases in anxiety and behavior issues, among other benefits.
This page will give insight into some of our programming across the district that seeks to address students’ needs in this area:
Second Step is a digital platform provided for students in grades K-8 geared toward helping students build social-emotional skills for life. Pilot programs have been completed at each Newark elementary school, with plans for expansion next school year. All students at Wilson Middle School are receiving lessons, as well, currently.
Calm Classroom helps students and classroom teachers cultivate a daily practice of caring for one’s own mental and emotional well-being, develop a friendly self-awareness of one’s own mind, body and emotions, strengthen mental focus and more. Our Futures of Licking County provides funding for multi-part training for Calm Classroom facilitators.
Catch My Breath
A vaping prevention program at the middle and high schools. The program’s peer-led approach empowers students with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed decisions about e-cigarettes and reduce social pressures to vape. The program has been used this school year with all students at Wilson Middle School, the NHS Jr. ROTC and as-requested in elementary schools for specific students.
DBT Skills in Schools
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills are effective in helping students manage difficult emotional situations, cope with stress and make better decisions. It has been piloted in one high school classroom this year, with plans to increase usage at the middle schools and in more high school classes.
Ruling Our Experience (ROX)
The mission of ROX is to create generations of confident girls who control their own relationships, experiences, decisions and futures. The program is currently offered in multiple elementary and middle schools, led by trained school staff members to deliver evidence-based programming to girls in grades 5-8.
STEPP Support & Training for Parents & Professionals
This program, STEPPing UP and Learning Together, is an umbrella for providing tools for staff members, parents and the community. This includes PAX Community Tools training for parents and professionals, as well as the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P).
The need to feel safe, secure and supported is crucial to the ability to learn. NCS is committed to creating a safe, welcoming school environment and promoting lifelong social and emotional growth for all students. Parents and community members can access additional resources that our SEAS Team has compiled by visiting the following link: https://bit.ly/NCSParentPower.
NCS SEAS Team
Newark City Schools’ Social, Emotional and Academic Support (SEAS) Team was developed more than 10 years ago to connect social emotional support staff from across the district. Team members strive to champion tools and strategies that promote wellness, while leading social-emotional learning in their buildings.
The team works with community partners to provide a variety of opportunities for students and families, including the many programs highlighted inside this issue and more.
The SEAS Team includes (if there’s a way to make this more visually interesting…great! Otherwise, it can be listed as bullet points):
- Districtwide: Wellness Coordinator, Parent Mentor, After School Adventures
- Newark High School: 4 School Counselors, Linkage Coordinator
- Middle Schools: Student Advocate, Linkage Coordinator
- Elementary schools: Social Worker, Linkage Coordinator
- NCS Digital: Social Worker, Graduation Coaches, Linkage Coordinator
Safer Ohio School Tip Line
The Safer Ohio School Tip Line is a free safety resource available to all Ohio schools. The line is available 24/7 and allows students, parents, teachers and administrators to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety. Trained analysts receive calls and texts. All tips are reported to the Ohio School Safety Center and Ohio Department of Education.
Examples of what may be reported include:
- Bullying/harassment incidents
- Self-harm or suicidal sentiments
- Unusual/apprehensive behavior of students or staff
- Verbal or written threats observed toward students, faculty or schools
- Weapons/suspicious devices on or near school grounds
- Drug and alcohol usage/possession on school premises
- Alarming social media observations
- Any other school safety related concerns
The phone number for the tip line is 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764)
Summer Camp Registrations now available
Newark City Schools will be offering summer camp programming for the eighth year this summer — offering 13 different summer learning camps, with opportunities offered for students coming into grades K-12. See below for a list of camps, as well as registration links for parents. Click links to register and for more information on times and locations. All forms are available online except for Guitar Camp, which must be printed out and signed by a parent/guardian.
- Video Skills Camp: May 30-June 2; grades 5-12 - Video Skills Flyer
- STEM Camp: June 12-16; grades 2-12 - STEM Camp 2023 flyer
- "Head Start" Band Camp: June 12-16; 6th grade - Head Start Band Camp flyer
- Newark Reads: June 20-23; grades 1-12 - Newark Reads Camp Summer flyer
- Count Me In: June 26-30; grades 1-12 - Count Me In Camp flyer
- Guitar Camp: June 26-30; grades 9-12 (form must be completed and turned in by April 18, 2023)
- GRIT Camp: June 26-30; girls in grades 6-12 - GRIT Summer Camp 2023 flyer
- Kindergarten Readiness Academy: Weeks of July 10, 17, 24 and 31 - Kindergarten Readiness Academy flyer
- Newark Codes: July 10-14; grades 3-12 - Newark Codes Summer flyer
- Newark Makes: July 10-14; grades 8-12 - Newark Makes Camp flyer
- Current Orchestra Camp: July 10-14; grades 7-9 - MS Orchestra Camp flyer
- Art Camp: July 17-21; grades 4-8 - Art Camp flyer
- Foreign Language Camp: July 24-28; grades 5-7 - French-Spanish Camp flyer
Middle/High School Spring Concert Schedule
April 25 - NHS Orchestra, 7 p.m., NHS Auditorium
April 26 - NHS Percussion Ensemble
May 9 - Wilson Band Concert feat. NHS Symphonic Band, 7 p.m., Wilson Middle School
May 10 - Liberty Band Concert feat. NHS Concert Band, 7 p.m., Liberty Middle School
May 11 - Heritage Band Concert feat. NHS Jazz Ensemble, 7 p.m., Heritage Middle School
May 11 - Wilson Choir Concert, 7 p.m., Wilson Middle School
May 17 - Wilson Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m., Wilson Middle School
May 19-20 - NHS Spring Choir Concert, 7 p.m., NHS Auditorium
May 24 - NHS Jazz on the Lawn, 6 p.m, NHS
*Additional concerts to-be-announced
Wildcat Spring Sports Schedules
The winter sports season is in full swing for the Spring 2023 season for your Newark Wildcats. Full schedules and scores are available on the athletic website at nhswildcats.com. Please click here to purchase tickets online. All tickets are online only — no cash is accepted at the door. Click below for each sport's season schedule:
Newark City Schools wants to celebrate its many great staff members who are making the district a great place for opportunity and learning. Every week, NCS staff members "take 5" minutes to nominate a colleague who is going above and beyond. The nominees' names are entered into a random draw. The award winners are surprised at work at the end of the week, and we reveal the weekly winners every Monday. Please click here to find an ongoing list of staff members who have been recognized this school year.