Multimedia Journalist

Eldon R-1 seeks funds for social-emotional program

The Eldon R-1 School District plans to implement a social-emotional curriculum.

For months, elementary teachers reviewed programs and found Second Step, a program on self-regulation with weekly lessons for grades K-5.

The program would cost $24,637 for materials, and the district has applied for a $20,000 Miller County Health Center 2019 Health and Wellness Grant.

Superintendent Matt Davis said he’s excited about the program, which will serve grades K-6 in Eldon Upper and South buildings.

“We know that a lot of kids go through different social and emotional trauma,” Davis said. “We know that we have to create an environment to where our kids know how to handle and cope with those situations.”

The district currently has three therapists through a partnership with Central Ozark Medical Center. With their full case loads, the district wanted to look at helping students on a broader scale, Davis said.

“If we can start teaching those skills in pre-K, by the time they graduate, they will be great citizens,” Davis said.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted children in rural areas with mental, behavioral and developmental disorders face more community and family challenges than children in urban areas.

“In Central Missouri, it’s hard to find therapy for our kids,” Davis said. “We felt kids who were getting therapy were missing a lot of educational opportunities.”

Holding the Second Step program during school hours would benefit parents, students and the school, he said. The curriculum focuses on executive function, academic achievement, controlled self-expression and overcoming challenges.

Davis said the district wants to approach mental health similarly to helping students who struggle academically. Everyone would receive Second Step lessons. Those who need more help would receive extra support from school counseling services. Students struggling would be directed to see a staff therapist.

The district plans to begin the program in the 2019-20 school year.

The Miller County Health Department’s Board of Trustees will approve grants that will make a significant difference in the community. Awarded grant recipients will be notified by May 15.

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