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Ozark City Schools new Mental Health Service Coordinator paving way for safer school environment

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 3:28 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Alabama State Legislation funded the Department of Education $4.5 million dollars to fund a Mental Health Service Coordinator Position. 102 of them in all, and one is located in Ozark.

Laura Bruce is far from your typical guidance counselor.

“So I am the one that is the liaison basically between the guidance counselor the principals the superintendent the schools that students their families,” said Laura Bruce – Mental Health Service Coordinator for Ozark City Schools.

Bruce helps bring in the outside recourses that some may not know are available.

“If interventions need to take place mapping the right counseling agency just making sure that we are taking care of the students,” said Bruce.

Strategies are developed to help catch students who may need help early on. One of the programs they have brought to the school is the peer helper program. Which gets students to be more aware of their classmates.

“The more we can put our eyes on things and intervein and find out the more we can get better services and help support that student whatever is needed,” said Bruce.

Report card conferences is another strategy they have in the works.

With many schools switching to remote due to COVID-19, they wanted to make sure that virtual students were not left out of the programs. Which is where the early warning system was developed. They use this program to identify indicators.

“There’s different ways that a student can simply can by clicking on an emoji to be like hey I’m feeling this way and it’s an emoji of a frown or what so have you that’s their way of letting you know I’m not having a good day or a good moment,” said Bruce.

With the position in it’s infancy stages, Bruce hopes to see it continue to grow for the school district.

“We have different populations that need that person just to say hey it’s okay let me find that out for you sometimes that can ease a persons mind right there to know that I have someone who is checking thigs out for me,” said Bruce.

Laura also wants to remind everyone that it is not a one-way street.

If families or students have questions or need assistance finding resources they don’t know about they can reach out to her for help.

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