Our View: Advocate will be valuable tool in schools

Published 9:53 am Friday, September 21, 2018

The Clark County Board of Education recently approved adding a new job description for the district that could have an immeasurably positive impact.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board voted to add a student advocacy specialist.

This person would be dedicated to working collaboratively with the school’s staff to provide preventative support and assistance to all students experiencing emotional, educational, cultural, personal, social or mental challenges.

The job is grant-funded with a salary range of about $44,000 to $64,000.

According to the job description, “the specialist will build positive and productive relationships with students and leverage those relationships to engage students in the learning environment.”

Someone could be hired to fill the position as early as next month.

Many of the challenges listed above are ones that can hinder a student in the classroom.

Bright, intelligent students struggling with mental health concerns, family trauma, learning delays, trouble fitting in or more may not be as successful in school because of those distractions.

It is hard for young people to cope with feelings of fear, loneliness, isolation, stress, anxiety or depression and issues of this type are being reported at an all-time for students.

According to a 2016 NPR report titled, “Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students,” up to one in five students living the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.”

These issues often manifest in other behaviors and issues, including chronic absences, low achievement, disruptive behavior and even violence.

In an age when students are resorting to violence more often, schools are forced to think of alternative ways to reach out to students, make them feel heard and to address issues before they manifest in dangerous ways.

Adding a student advocate will allow this person to give specialized focus to addressing these concerns in students.

Teachers, counselors and administrators are pulled in so many directions with so few resources these days, many students are inadvertently falling through the cracks.

By offering a dedicated staff member to reach out to students, build positive relationships, help them cope with crises or challenges and be a listening, trusted ear, students will have more success in the classroom. Our district is creating a safer, welcoming environment for students.