JPS teachers develop program to address students’ mental and emotional needs recognized after COVID-19

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:52 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Two Jackson Public School teachers noticed a difference in students after COVID and developed a plan to address their mental and emotional needs.

From isolation to bullying, the new program is giving children a brighter outlook on dealing with life’s struggles. Inside Johnson Elementary third and fourth graders are learning skills to be optimistic, welcoming and problem solvers.

“You can make new friends this way, and this is how I make my friends,” said fourth grader Brendino Fields.

The 10-year-old and third grader Keshonna Wells are among the students taking JES (Johnson Elementary School) CARES. It stands for Changing Attitudes and Refining Emotional Self Awareness. The program helps students understand their emotions and express them positively.

“It’s a beautiful program for you to have like no bullying and no being mean and having great strength, energy and having emotions,” said Wells.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are devoted to Social Emotional Learning. English Language and Arts teachers Bre’Ana Marshall and Barquita Stanton surveyed parents and students and started the program last May.

“We are providing them now young in third and fourth grade to have this mindset to have this tool this repertoire of things that I can do so that I’m not violently lashing out and insulting people,” said Marshall. “I can calm down, and I can use strategies that help me be kind and nurturing to others.”

“We help our students understand their strengths, what they’re strong in,” said Stanton. “It helps them gain self confidence, self advocacy, and it motivates them to be kind to one another.”

Students at Johnson are the first in the district using this program. Marshall and Stanton hope it will expand to schools throughout the district.

They want to get an early start with elementary students who can acquire the skills they can use through adulthood.

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