Chalkbeat: “Deep breaths and ‘brain breaks’: How extra funds for mental health are transforming one Aurora school”

First graders do yoga during class Sept. 20, at Elkhart Elementary in Aurora. Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat

Story excerpt:

"Last year, Elkhart Elementary’s full-time psychologist kept busy working with students with special needs who she was required to help.

If a need cropped up among the rest of the student body, Ariel Bowlby sometimes couldn’t respond — unless the issue turned into a crisis. Assistant Principal Angie Paz often had to step in to help.

Paz said she intervened 'sometimes even between doing disciplinary actions — but at the same time providing that social emotional piece that they need.'

This year, with new funds voters approved in 2018, Aurora Public Schools has placed another person, a social worker, at the elementary school to be more proactive. Only six weeks into the school year, school leaders said it’s already making a difference by reducing discipline referrals, improving school culture, and increasing student attendance.

'In 25 years as an educator, this is the first time I’ve been fully supported,' Elkhart Principal Ron Schumacher said. 'I feel like I’m able to do 30% to 40% more work on any given day because we’re not being asked to do things we can’t handle.'