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Riverhead, NY: District to education 'whole' students; social-emotional as well as academic

Nov 16, 2018, Riverhead (NY) Local: School officials urge whole-child approach to achieve student success https://riverheadlocal.com/2018/11/16/school-officials-urge-whole-child-approach-to-achieve-student-success/ The Riverhead Central School District is looking to combine social and emotional development with academics as a way to foster student success, according to a report presented by Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez during a school board meeting Tuesday night. The district — again deemed a focus district in June by the New York State Education Department — has been falling short on its academic goals for the last three years. … Henriquez said that by looking at students as a “whole” they were able to discern that a key component was missing, that of the social and emotional development of a student, which research shows plays a critical role in academic performance. … Overall, the levels of poverty in the Riverhead school district, combined with other issues children may experience, translate into a higher risk of going through adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, which “literally wreaks havoc on the mind and body,” said Henriquez. The superintendent said that research shows that ACEs in children at critically and sensitive developmental periods—which include many types of trauma in varying degrees — directly affect brain development. This in turn can lead to a wide range of problems including poor school and work performance, chronic disease, psychiatric disorders, obesity, crime and more. … “Students with disabilities are not doing well,” said director of pupil personnel Eileen Manitta. About 86 percent of Riverhead’s special education students were placed at level one, compared to 65 percent of New York State students. Only one percent of Riverhead’s students with disabilities were placed at level four, compared to five percent of students statewide. Manitta said ”too many kids are in restrictive environments,” there are “too many suspensions,” and that race and ethnicity play a role since black and Latino kids are disproportionately more affected when it comes to suspensions, classifications and restrictive settings. … “As a district we are failing at every level, we have had a huge decline in learning over the last three years even though we have all these resources,” she said in an interview. “I look forward to the changes of the superintendent and I really hope that she really turns it around here.” “This report is really eye-opening and I don’t think parents know the crisis we are in as a community and as a school,” she said.