FRONT ROYAL, Va. (WDVM) — A new program is underway in Warren County Public Schools that aims to help students who have experienced trauma, giving them much needed support inside and outside of the classroom.
Project COURAGE is a collaborative effort between the public schools, the Warren County Community Health Coalition, and the I’m Just Me Movement. The program is geared toward middle school students and students in the county’s non-traditional education programs, partnering the students with a behavioral health coach who can help them work through behavioral issues in the classroom. Outside the classroom, a mentor with the I’m Just Me Movement can help support students with social and family matters. In addition, the program will provide support to parents in order to better assist the family as a whole.
Students in Project COURAGE will also be taught coping skills to handle their anger or anxieties, particularly students who are in the Reflections program, a county-wide alternative for out-of-school suspensions. Any student who is given three or more days in the Reflections program is automatically referred to Project COURAGE.
Educators believe this form of intervention will help kids get onto the right track moving forward, building resiliency as students move from middle school into high school.
“We’re trying to teach pro-social skills in the community,” said Michael Hirsch, the Director of Special Services for Warren County Public Schools. “But most importantly, or equally important, is we want our [Standard of Learning] scores to rise, we want our attendance to rise, and we want our disciplinary referrals to decrease.”
Hirsch says teachers were trained over the summer to recognize trauma in their students, and that the program began when students returned to school in August.
Project COURAGE is funded through a two-year, $150,000 grant through the Victims of Crime Act and organizers are already looking to expand the program further into the future.