Decatur Student Center begins ‘wraparound’ services

Therapist Kaylee Simon brought her dog with her to Decatur in December for the Decatur Student Center's inaugural event: an information session on stress and anxiety.   
Photo courtesy of Dianne Thompson

Therapist Kaylee Simon brought her dog with her to Decatur in December for the Decatur Student Center's inaugural event: an information session on stress and anxiety. Photo courtesy of Dianne Thompson

Christopher Rosselot

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In December 2017, the Decatur Student Center held its first event: a stress and anxiety information session with Riley, a therapy dog. These sessions have continued every Friday since.

“From what I’ve heard in students in my classes, [the sessions have] been really appreciated,” junior Scott Johnson said.

Johnson is one of the Student Ambassadors for the Student Center (formerly part of the Student Growth Network), a group that formed as a result of school climate surveys by concerned faculty and teachers.

After Decatur alumni Joe Bodine’s death due to a drug overdose, a “grassroots” effort began to discuss mental health at Decatur, Decatur Student Success Coordinator Dianne Thompson said.

“His mom began to pull people together to start talking about not only substance misuse and abuse but also looking at the larger issue of mental health concerns,” Thompson said.

Marietta City Schools’ Student Life Center provided the “wraparound” services that Decatur faculty wished to see implemented, Thompson said.

According to Johnson, in order to provide wraparound services at Decatur, the Decatur faculty pushed for someone to take on these responsibilities.

Consequently, Thompson started working for City Schools of Decatur in July 2017 as the Student Success Coordinator.

With the conclusion of construction at Decatur in January, the Decatur Student Center now has an official space in rooms C207 and C228. Thompson hopes to subdivide these rooms to make space for individual and group services such as podcasts and drum circles. Johnson also envisions this use, and he hopes to make videos about calculating GPA or interpreting a transcript that “teach some of these tips and tricks to the high school experience.”

Thompson has worked in education for 23 years previously as a counselor and a district administrator.

Thompson’s vision is for the Decatur Student Center, “to destigmatize asking for help.”

“If we don’t have a service, we’re going to look for a service. Long term I would like this to impact the culture of the school to where everyone feels included and that there’s a place they can go where they’re

going to be understood.”

Johnson also sees the Student Center as an all-encompassing place.

“We’re here to do something tangible to support the student body and to support people in any way we can and in any way they need,” Johnson said.

For now, the Student Center will be launching new seven week group therapy sessions starting in February.  Thompson also organized a viewing of “Angst,” a documentary about mental health and anxiety, for the entire school on Feb. 5-6 to continue talking about mental health.

 

Contact the writer, Christopher Rosselot, at 19christopherrosselot@csdecatur.net

Photos courtesy of Dianne Thompson and Kaylee Simon.

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