Board View: Helping kids “who have nobody else”
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
Corbin Independent school board Chairwoman Kim Sasser Croley has seen firsthand the need for adults to be trained to recognize mental health issues in youth.
She works with her church bus ministry on Wednesday nights, picking up students for services, and also teaches a youth Sunday school class. Croley, who also represents her region on KSBA’s board, said she’s seen some terrible family situations that some students must deal with.
“I wish I thought we didn’t have to have this kind of training, but I think it’s vitally important for our school systems to be aware of the condition of mental health of many of our students,” she said.
In college, future teachers are taught about content, Croley added, but not as much about other aspects that may be barriers for students. “You have to be taught how to recognize when a student is not paying attention, not focusing because it’s a mental issue, as opposed to, ‘I just don’t feel like being here today,’” she said.
To keep tabs on her young people, she laughingly refers to herself as a “Facebook stalker.” But she said she is surprised at the gravity of what she learns there.
“Suicide is something that is discussed routinely on Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and all these things, which just amazes me,” Croley said. “Sometimes it’s healthy discussion – ‘Oh, gosh I would never feel that bad and if you’re feeling that bad, you need to talk to somebody.’
“Some students are really good at recognizing what’s going on with their peers, but as adults, we have to be taught what to look at, and I hope every school system does some type of training, whether it’s this one or not. Because teachers are taught content – they’re not social workers and I don’t think they should have to be social workers, but they have to be part of the safety net for these kids who sometimes have nobody else.”