GHS Education and Wellness Center
GHS Education and Wellness Center (“The Center”) Awarded Third Year of Alliance Reaching Out Grant Funding
The Center, launched in Fall 2019, continues to grow and expand, serving 90+ students full-time and others on a drop-in/as needed basis. Under the direction of a dedicated and professional staff, the Center provides social emotional learning, mental health and academic support in one centralized location.
Last year during its second year of operation, the services available through the center were even more vital as many students and families dealt with the physical, emotional and financial hardships brought on or exasperated by the pandemic. The Center utilized PBIS (positive behavioral intervention supports) items such as special lunches, clothing, toiletries and gift cards to help students financially while acknowledging successes in meeting personal goals.
The mental health staff spent extra time empowering and connecting families to resources in the community to mitigate food insecurity. With all learning been done on a device (whether remotely or in school), the spare Chromebooks purchased with Alliance funds were used daily by students experiencing issues/awaiting technical support which greatly minimized disruptions to learning.
Over the summer, Alliance funding allowed the Center staff to work in a focused manner developing several new exciting programs for the 2021/2022 school year. Center teachers were able to align the Center curriculum with new state graduation standards and Capstone requirements. A group of teachers and paraprofessionals also used the time to plan offsite community service and community building activities.
Starting Fall 2021, the Center in collaboration with Family Centers will initiate the first step in the development of a School Based Mental Health Center with a clinician on site at GHS. This person will provide students with greater access to mental health services and psychiatric care when needed.
The Center will also be implementing the School to Career program, in collaboration with Community Centers, Inc (CCI) and the Alliance (funding for student stipends). Pending additional funding from another grant, the Center will be able to support this program with a designated Internship Coordinator.
The School to Career program provides Center juniors and seniors with paid internship experience in a field of career interest concurrent with participating in an aligned academic course. The program allows students to explore various career clusters, pursue their own passions and interests while acquiring the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and life beyond school.
With its growing program needs, the Center is also using Alliance funds to purchase items such as room dividers and privacy screens to maximize space in larger classrooms and to welcome new community providers and students with an inviting space with motivating and bright decor.
During the 2021/2022 school year, Center students will continue to have access to the wealth of opportunities that the Greenwich/Fairfield County community offers via on-site drop in times, individual or small group sessions and classroom presentations from organizations such as the following:
- Liberation Programs Youth Options – substance abuse education, prevention and treatment
- CCI – skills building to overcome educational, social and economic barriers
- Kids in Crisis – case referral management, outreach services
- The Rowan Center – sexual assault counseling and support services, education & empowerment to prevent sexual violence
- YWCA/YNET – classroom education to prevent teen dating violence; individual support for students in unhealthy relationships.
- Laurel House – transition supports: education and employment
- BRS/Level Up – transition supports: education and employment
- Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich – building leadership skills and positive community engagement
- A Different Way (started by Mike Chambers, long time community mentor) – college application and athletic recruiting process support for students of color.
GHS Social Worker, Danielle Polizzi at Center opening ceremony (courtesy of the Greenwich Time)
Learning space in the Education and Wellness Center
Wellness Center supplies