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Student Services Builds Resilience
Student Services Builds Resilience
Posted on 08/10/2021
Pisgah Elementary School Counselor Tara Mowrey fills Wellness Bags for her students during a virtual learning period in the 2020-2021 school year. Related:
Student Services: Supporting the Whole Child
On the Front Lines: School Social Workers
School Counselors Get Creative to Provide Support
'Your Teachers and Your Neighbors Care'

Pictured: Pisgah Elementary School Counselor Tara Mowrey fills Wellness Bags for her students during a virtual learning period in the 2020-2021 school year. 

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Students, parents, and staff have all been affected by the stress and constant changes during COVID. In order to positively impact learning and emotional health, our community schools are teaching and supporting student resiliency. We're giving students the tools to build and maintain positive relationships through social skills development. By blending social skills into academic teaching and providing emotional support for students and staff, our schools provide a safe and secure place for everyone to learn and thrive.

For the last three years, BCS has been implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), which provides comprehensive academic, behavioral, and social-emotional supports for students and staff. Supports are layered, with a baseline for everyone and more intensive interventions available for those who need them most. Through these supports, schools are becoming rocks of stability in the turbulent waters of COVID-19 and the day-to-day challenges of growing up. They’re also preparing students to be career, college, and community ready.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING  · SELF-AWARENESS: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.  · SOCIAL AWARENESS: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.   · RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.  · SELF-MANAGEMENT: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.  · RELATIONSHIP SKILLS: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.“Social-emotional learning is problem-solving,” said BCS Student Services Department Director David Thompson. “It’s being aware of yourself and who you are, being aware of and understanding others, and being able to use what you learn to build community. It’s really very simple, but it requires focused attention and intentionality. This is something teachers have done since forever, but we’re making it more deliberate and complete. By integrating social-emotional learning in everyday instruction, we build stronger students.”

To that end, Student Services has hired three social-emotional learning coaches who will work closely with teachers and instructional coaches to help connect social-emotional learning to classroom instruction. The department is also adding four social workers, one school counselor, and four school-based mental health clinicians this year.

Social-emotional instruction builds on decades of best teaching practices to guide students to target levels of resilience and self-awareness – from perspective-taking to stress management to goal setting and relationship building. For example, students might be asked to imagine how a historical figure or a fictional character might have felt at a specific moment. That helps them imagine other perspectives and build empathy. Or a teacher might pair students to discuss a topic and have each student report on what the other one said about a subject. This teaches social awareness by connecting students to each other and exercising their listening skills.

“These strategies work no matter what you’re teaching,” said BCS District PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) Coordinator Michelle Smith. “It’s part of what we do all day every day. We help every student grow, and we give more help to those who need it.”

PBIS builds proactive systems and practices that encourage healthy behavior, while the Compassionate Schools model brings trauma-informed care into the classroom for general stress reduction and help for vulnerable students. Culturally responsive practices help teachers create authentic connections with students to build trust and respect. Student Services has strengthened and broadened training in these supports to include more staff members during the pandemic.

This video explains the BCS Compassionate Schools Model in more detail.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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