Heart and Mind

  • Written by: Anna Gerber
  • Photo by: Kerri McDermid

“A school is a place of learning and SROs are a part of that. We work collectively as a team with the school staff to ensure the success of every student.” - Deputy Eric Underwood, School Resource Officer, Niwot High School

In St. Vrain, student well-being and safety are among our highest priorities.

“Our vision for St. Vrain Valley Schools is to cultivate a school experience that will inspire every student to effectively face the challenges of heart and mind so that they may become joyful, lifelong learners in a highly-competitive, diverse world.”

These words guide the work of St. Vrain’s Department of Student Services, one of many units throughout the district working to promote learning and well-being among all students and families. Student Services offers resources to ensure that teachers and staff are equipped to meet the evolving and diverse needs of their students.

“Consistent social and emotional development supports positive learning outcomes for all students,” says Johnny Terrell, executive director of Student Services. “There is a strong connection between social-emotional skills and positive outcomes in academic performance, behavior, happiness, and mental health.”

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Across St. Vrain, schools at all levels utilize age-appropriate social curriculum – InFocus for elementary, 7 Mindsets for middle school, and Sources of Strength for high school – to teach students the social competencies necessary for academic and life success.

To supplement this curriculum, Student Services provides in-depth training and support, resource sharing, discourse and dialog, and whole-staff training.

“Our goal is to build the capacity of all district employees through staff development that improves the learning of all the children we serve,” Terrell says.

Recognizing the importance of overall well-being, St. Vrain has also increased the number of counselors and interventionists dedicated to supporting mental health.

“We have made sure that all of our schools have some type of mental health support,” said Terrell. “Over the past few years we have added one counselor to every high school, and made sure that there is a counselor or interventionist at every one of our elementary schools.”

In addition to increased SEL and mental health support, each high school in St. Vrain now has two School Resource Officers (SROs), career law enforcement officers who work in collaboration with schools. Through his role with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Eric Underwood is in his third year serving as SRO at Niwot High School. On paper, his job is to keep everyone at the school safe and to enforce the law.

“We’re here to keep kids safe,” Underwood says. “St. Vrain’s School Resource Officers are not only key pieces to the schools in which we work, but to the communities as well.”

But Deputy Underwood sees his role as being much bigger than that of a traditional law enforcement officer. He aims to be a resource to every student and family he encounters. By answering questions and offering advice, handing out high-fives, and cheering them on to graduation, Underwood builds a rapport with students.

“A school is a place of learning and SROs are a part of that,” he says. “We work collectively as a team with the school staff to ensure the success of every student.”

By the Numbers: Student Well-Being and Safety

School Counselors, Psychologists, Interventionists, and Social Workers
who are dedicated to supporting student mental health and overall well-being. St. Vrain Valley Schools added a counseling position to each high school, as well as increased counseling support at all elementary schools across the district.
School Resource Officers (SROs)
who support student safety in every school across the district through strong partnerships with our local law enforcement agencies.
Campus Supervisors
who support school administrators, SROs, teachers, and staff in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy school environment.
invested in school safety
and security upgrades in the past ten years, including secured double-vestibule entrances, security cameras, and other building upgrades.
hours of safety training
in the past year for campus supervisors, SROs, school leadership, and district administration.

Related Stories

ST. VRAINNOVATION was produced in-house by the St. Vrain Department of Communications.
ST. VRAINNOVATION and other district initiatives are generously supported by these and many other community sponsors.

© 2019 - St. Vrain Valley Schools