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Knoch’s focus on mental health an example to all districts

School has always been something that is ever-evolving. It almost seems like a different environment year to year.

The pandemic caused a tremendous shift in the education system, and we are only now beginning to see the fallout of the long-term effects it had on students.

The news of Knoch School District’s strong focus on student mental health came as a striking relief in Tuesday’s Eagle.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade affected by mental health issues have somewhere to turn, thanks to new personnel and programs in the district.

Greg Hajek, the district’s director of special services, said the district added a school social worker who meets with students in all grades and schools, as well as a mental health clinician to support students participating in the new Knights Assistance Program at the middle and high schools.

The main benefit of the program is that students attend class with far fewer students than they would in regular classes.

“It’s an environment where kids can go when they are struggling to come back from hospitalizations, having anxiety or who are just having a difficult time in the class setting,” Hajek said.

Many of us remember the sink-or-swim feeling of being in school, whether it’s been just a few years or a few decades. These days, that simply isn’t an option. Schools are dealing with hurdles among students that haven’t been an issue in the documented history of the public school system before.

Dedicating learning time to teaching students coping mechanisms and how to manage stress is a commendable move by Knoch. With the counselors in place to talk to students individually if need be, they’re creating an environment where students know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

The district’s endeavors should serve as an example to schools everywhere. Students will never learn if they’re dealing with high levels of stress.

We hope students who need the support will benefit from the program.

— CM

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