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December 2, 2021

Even before the global COVID pandemic and the subsequent increased need for social emotional supports in schools, the La Grande School District was committed to providing robust mental health support to students and staff. Through their Culture of Care program, the district’s goal is to regulate a positive environment and build connection.

Part of their effort was to hire Dr. Michael Sedler to work alongside LGSD to provide training to teachers and staff and to connect with parents and families. Sedler has been working in the district during the 21-22 school year and will visit each school three or four times this year to train about resources that can be used in classrooms to better handle behavior challenges, increase student motivation, reduce stress and more.

According to Scott Carpenter, the district’s Assistant Superintendent, a couple of years ago district teachers and staff were trained in Conscious Discipline (K-5) and Collaborative Problem Solving (secondary level), but some wanted and needed more. “The work Michael is doing is a great supplement to the training teachers had received and is motivation for teachers who may not have previously had training,” Carpenter said.

Sedler has a series of virtual classes that district employees can view anytime. He also observes in classrooms and develops strategies and skills a specific teacher may employ to improve classroom environment and maximize learning. Carpenter said Sedler’s approach in doing this in a non-judgmental way helps teachers feel safe and increase their knowledge.

The Culture of Care and Sedler’s efforts also feature Parent Sessions in the evening a few times during the year. Sedler provides information about student self-esteem, parent cooperation, suicide and the effect of trauma on children. The next Parent Session entitled, “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” is on Monday, December 6 at 6:30 PM.

Assistant Superintendent Carpenter said schools are still navigating how best to support students who missed more than a year of school due to the pandemic and are struggling. “Returning to in-person, full-time has been challenging, and it’s taking all teachers’ bag of tricks to succeed. Michael’s trainings offer more tools for everyone as we continue to move forward.”