MGSH-Character-AwardsIn celebration of Character Recognition Day on May 8, Synergy & Leadership Exchange presented awards for positive character development to 17 schools and four community programs at the Character Recognition Awards Ceremony at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Maple Grove Senior High received two Promising Practice awards and was recognized as an honorable mention, 2014 Minnesota School of Character.

The Promising Practices Awards recognized two school programs at Maple Grove Senior High:

  • Action for Reaction: A student-led practice that promotes positive mental and chemical health awareness and choices in collaboration with North Memorial Hospital. 
  • Link Crew: A yearlong transition program designed to welcome all sophomores into the school community, build connections and leadership, and ensure students have a positive transition into senior high.

The Minnesota Promising Practices awards recognize schools that have developed and implemented a practice promoting character development in their schools. These practices must be specific, unique and encompass at least one of the 11 principles. The practices are shared on the Synergy website where other schools can learn about and implement them in their own school.

The seventh annual Minnesota Schools of Character awards recognize schools and/or districts that excel in exemplifying the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education and demonstrate outstanding character education initiatives yielding positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance. 

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was emcee for the event and Dr. Kent Pekel, president and CEO of the Search Institute, delivered the keynote.

-Published May 12, 2014

Thanks to a new multi-year grant, over the next five years up to 600 students in the Osseo Area Schools and Hopkins School Districts will receive school-linked mental health services. The two school districts have partnered with St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development to collaborate on providing school-linked mental health services to children recommended for the program. The program is being funded in part by a multi-year grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Children’s Mental Health Division.

In 2013, the Legislature doubled the funding for school-linked mental health grants. Addressing the gaps in mental health services that leave children with complex conditions without access to a diagnosis, the program acknowledges that assessment and treatment through school-based services can identify and treat conditions that may otherwise be overlooked.

“One in five children has a diagnosable mental health need—yet only 20 percent are able to access services,” reports Julie Sjordal, executive director of St. David’s Center (CDC statistics). “Through our partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, we can expand our reach, and support more children at a critical time in their development.”

The School-Linked Mental Health program will be under the direction of licensed psychologist Gerard LaSalle, MS, who brings thirty years of experience working with severely emotionally disturbed children, adolescents and young adults.  He designed, established and supervised a therapeutic educational alternative program in the Dakota County intermediate school district, as well as providing assessments, consulting with parents and school staff, and counseling for adolescents. Stephanie B. Combey, MSW, LICSW, Senior Director of Children’s Mental Health Services at St. David’s Center, developed the program model and will oversee the School-Linked Mental Health Services program.

St. David’s Center has been a DHS CTSS-certified agency since 2004, and has been providing school-linked early childhood mental health services since 2009.

“When students are physical and mentally healthy, they are more ready to learn at school each day,” said Kate Maguire, Superintendent of Osseo Area Schools. “Our children have increasingly intense unmet needs which impact their learning. Partnerships for school-based mental health services are essential to supporting healthy learners and ensuring that they graduate on time and are college and career ready.”

Working with St. David’s Center, district administrators identified schools for participation in the program. Early childhood programs and elementary schools were priorities. Both Osseo and Hopkins school districts have diverse populations, and most schools identified for services have rates of Emotional and Behavioral Disorder designation that signify a need for interventions. Both districts have populations of free or reduced lunch participation and English Language Learners. There are multiple languages spoken in each district.

-Published May 12, 2014