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School superintendents discuss mental health concerns

The number one professional development need in schools in the northeastern counties “is support for how to handle the range of mental health issues in our classrooms,” Dr. Will Hoffman, Tyrrell Schools superintendent said 13 northeast region superintendents agreed unanimously in a recent survey.

In the 13 school districts in the northeast region, Dr. Hoffman reported, there are 55,000 students in 117 schools with 30 psychologists, and one school counselor for every 350 students. There is one school social worker for each 1,650 students, with two districts having no school social workers.

Ten of the 13 districts report that, due to a lack of funding and a lack of mental health service providers, they contract with no other service providers.

Superintendents are partnering with East Carolina University in Greenville and Elizabeth City State University to develop opportunities for additional training for teachers, counselors, social workers and administrators to address this issue, the superintendent stated.

“Tyrrell County Schools was fortunate this year to gain a school social worker in a partnership with the County Commission who saw the need, along with the Board of Education, for early intervention with issues of abuse, neglect and trauma,” Dr. Hoffman stated.

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