I am proud the Hilliard City School District leaders have taken the important step to create the position of director of student well-being. Our expectation is that we lead the way, live out our growth mindset and improve the service we provide to our community.
District leaders also have created a lead-nurse role to coordinate our health services and we are in the process of hiring a full-time wellness coordinator. We are placing resources where they are needed.
Our partnership with the Hilliard Division of Police and the Norwich Township Fire Department is the state model. We will have a groundbreaking safety day in August.
We are doing the work, but should we be doing more?
As I reflect back on the school year, I think about some comments from my last student-advisory committee meeting.
Several of the students in the meeting, during an open and serious conversation, challenged the way we teach health to 10th-grade students.
They were critical of the curriculum: It isn't real world to them anymore.
They said 10th grade is too late for most of the material.
They also were critical of us making it available as an online course; to them it makes it unimportant and more of a "checklist" item than an important requirement.
Should we be examining what health class really looks like in our district?
Should we be challenging the status quo?
Can we "stand up and own it" for these kids – and when?
Can we make health a required, sit-down, ninth-grade class for all students – should we?
Is it more about building relationships than the correct teacher licensure?
Can we do better without spending more money?
Here are some topics I believe we need to talk about, knowing these will be difficult conversations:
* Suicide and dealing with stress and depression. This is not fluff curriculum – it's the real deal. We should empower positive groups and teens helping teens. It starts within the social groups – and giving them access to resources. Students need direct access to outside resources. Students need training.
* Texting and driving, and basic driving safety. Distracted driving is a health issue; it's the No. 1 killer of young people. Also, do we start lobbying and advocating for real changes to laws regarding when and where young people can drive? Again, this is by far the No. 1 killer of our kids.
* Opioids and other drug issues, including alcoholism.
* Digital wellness and safety. This is a health issue.
* Gun safety and risks. Let's talk about it, discuss it, educate about it. It is a health issue. Let's not be afraid; let's be informed.
* Tie this all together with our R Factor training and give students skills to deal with events and challenges.
I am not advocating for fast action; I am asking if we should be having these conversations.
We are focused on social-emotional development of students. We must be intentional, and we must make these issues a priority. Our values require each of us to "stand up and own it." Let's embrace the productive discomfort of these challenging conversations and do what is required of us.
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.