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Gina Wyman, Rebecca Belcher-Timme: Loss of Easthampton schools’ positions a concern

To the editor:

We were distressed to learn that the administrators of the Easthampton Public Schools are proposing to eliminate the school adjustment counselor positions at Maple, Center and Pepin, the three elementary schools in the district.

As Maple School parents and as educators, we have many concerns.

School adjustment counselors play a critical role in supporting students and teachers in the elementary setting. They run small groups for children dealing with issues such as divorce, loss and self-advocacy.

They teach children about personal safety, peaceful problem solving, disability awareness and handling transitions. Without a proactive approach to the emotional health of the whole school population, more students will need serious interventions.

Another important function of this position is to help students make sense of traumatic events, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary or the bombings in Boston.

When we think about these recent tragedies, we know there is a need for trained mental health staff in our schools.

Furthermore, the manner in which the elimination of the school counselors has been pursued by the school department has been disconcerting.

In making a proposal that would have a significant impact on the students and community of Easthampton, there has been no communication with elementary school parents.

Much as it did with its efforts to reconfigure the elementary schools earlier this year, the school department is again trying to make drastic changes to the services it offers the students without obtaining any input or feedback from those individuals most affected by the proposal. The lack of transparency in the decision-making process employed by the school district is just as troubling as the resulting proposal.

Gina Wyman
Rebecca Belcher-Timme
Easthampton

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