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Some Iowa schools get money to teach social-emotional skills

Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 31, 2022

WOODBINE, Iowa (KMTV) — Kids can learn subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic, but what about their social and emotional needs?

Some schools in Iowa are getting grants from the Iowa Department of Education to establish "therapeutic classrooms" for kids with social-emotional and behavioral needs.

That includes Woodbine Community School District, which received $333,000, and Council Bluffs Community School District.

With social media at our fingertips, kids and teenagers can see the same controversy and drama adults look at. Coming off a pandemic, and with violence in schools, Woodbine Superintendent Justin Wagner wants to help his students process what they see and feel.

"Awareness is the first thing, just saying look, we understand and are aware that you're struggling with something," he said. "This too shall pass if you know the right skills to deal with it."

Students will learn things like conflict resolution and how to deal with bad things, he said.

Mental Health Therapist Tina Sullivan said the skills can be taught through role play.

"That's a big thing," she said, "having one student play a part and the other student react to it, in real time talking about it."

One space Woodbine already offers is "The Tiger Room," named after their school mascot. It's a place students can emotionally connect and de-escalate. Three therapists will be available to help students.

There will be curriculum in place for elementary and secondary students to help them develop social-emotional skills the way they would other subjects.

"When kids are going through traumatic events, sometimes that is the priority that you need to get them through that event before they can focus on their math, reading, writing," PK-4 Principal Jill Ridder said.

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