November 25, 2020 | Volume 1, Number 6
Family and Student Engagement
Family and Student Voice: Holding Space and Time for All Voices
By Dana Asby, CEI Director of Innovation & Research Support

COVID-19 has brought educators and families together in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago. Many parents are serving as teachers while their children are doing distance or hybrid learning. Educators are more directly involved in supporting social emotional learning, ensuring the physical safety of students, and responding to gaps in basic needs than they have been in the past. While not every community, family, or student is being served equally and not every family-school relationship has been enhanced, we have seen that when schools take the time to ask families and students directly what they need, they are better able to meet those needs.
News You Can Use
By Jackson Sims, CEI Intern and
Dana Asby, CEI Director of Innovation & Research Support

Students who pass through the doors of every school have thoughts, feelings, and experiences that distinguish them from their peers. Their families are also unique, with their own history in education playing a role in their child’s perspective of school. With such a wide variety of expectations, goals, and concerns involved in any given school environment, it is important that all members of the community both feel heard and are heard. 

A diverse community is one of many factors that can make a school stronger, but it can also lead to a number of challenges that limit communication between students, parents, and educators.

We Do it Together: Functional and Dysfunctional Family Coping
By Jackson Sims, CEI Intern

It’s no secret that families across the country are facing many new challenges. Between the effects of COVID-19, concerns about employment and finances, and adapting to the increased time and space we share at home, there’s a lot to be stressed about. It’s times like these where family coping strategies can be utilized to their greatest potential. These coping methods can provide greatly needed stability and security in the home. That being said, it’s important to be aware of what practices might keep us from those goals, whether we do so intentionally or otherwise.

Featured Fellow: Rhode Island’s Cumberland School Department’s Director of Special Services Rachel Santa Brings Compassionate School Mental Health to Her District
By Dana Asby, CEI Director of Innovation & Research Support

Rachel Santa has had a varied career in mental health and education in Colorado and Rhode Island, from working as a music therapist and then assistant director of a residential facility to creating an alternative high school program; working with students with emotional, behavioral, and learning difficulties in North Kingstown, RI; and now serving as the Director of Special Services in Rhode Island’s Cumberland School Department. Her varied past experiences allow her to come into the role of administrator with a different perspective—one that honors and furthers the voices of students and their families. Throughout her years of providing mental health and special education services, she has been able to better meet these needs by listening to what students and their families need with compassion.  
Learn more about the amazing work our Fellows have been doing through the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative and in their school communities in our
Events and Resources
Access and share C-TLC resources:

Stay posted to our Events page for updates and announcements. To view other archived webinars, subscribe to CEI’s YouTube channel.
Helping Educators Address and Reduce Trauma
The Helping Educators Address and Reduce Trauma (HEART) Committee is a New England regional effort designed to help school communities and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) collaborate intentionally and concretely around best practices that enhance and improve youth mental health supports.

This regional initiative is a collaboration with:

  • The SAMHSA Region 1 Office
  • The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Regional Operations (Region 1),
  • The New England MHTTC, and
  • New England FQHCs and school community stakeholders.

Stay posted for regular updates on our work!
Our goal is to map, document, and analyze processes, resources, and strategies that advance youth mental health supports by establishing and strengthening collaborations between schools/districts and community health centers.
No school can work well for children if parents and teachers do not act in partnership on behalf of the children's best interests.
~Dorothy H. Cohen

This issue of our newsletter marks the first since the retirement of Dr. Christine Mason, the former Director of the C-TLC and the Executive Director of the Center for Educational Improvement. We want to thank her for her profound contribution to our work over the last two years (which will continue in a new form) and her leadership and expertise in steering the C-TLC. She has led this project with creativity, intelligence, and energy, guided by her vision for a future of education and school mental health that compassionately supports all students and educators

We are excited to see where this next chapter takes her and wish her a well-deserved and very happy retirement from the C-TLC as she takes CEI's work further!