Search

Bigfork, MT: Superintendent sees "a growing number of students with behavioral needs"

Sept 18, 2017, Kalispell, MT, Daily Inter Lake: Bigfork to Offer Program for Emotionally Distressed Youth http://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20170918/ARTICLE/170919832 A specialized education program for emotionally distressed youth opened at Bigfork Elementary School early this month. A team of three educators from Intermountain, a nonprofit agency specializing in child and family therapy, will run the day treatment program on campus — a first for the Helena-based company. The Intermountain staff will include a therapist, teacher and mental health school specialist, who will teach academics as well as social skills over the course of the school day. The program caters to students who may be emotionally disturbed, have experienced some type of abuse, are transitioning into a new family or aren’t able to work well with their peers. ... Bigfork superintendent Matt Jensen said during his tenure as elementary school principal he observed a growing number of students with behavioral needs that were more intensive than the school typically dealt with. But the options for catering to those kids were limited: he could send them to off-site treatment programs, such as Flathead Crossroads Program in Evergreen, but noted there was often a waiting list. Five years ago, Jensen spent a day in Helena to witness Intermountain’s home-base program in action. Back then there weren’t quite enough students in the Bigfork district to justify bringing Intermountain to campus, but over time those numbers changed. ... “We don’t know what these kids are coming to school with — what happened the night before or that morning,” said Intermountain teacher Amber Johnston. ... If a student does experience an outburst, they’ll have access to a sensory room which is stocked with a number of items for self-soothing such as a hanging swing, a tent and exercise balls. ...