This year, many Kingsley teachers and families have noticed gaps in both the academic and emotional learning of their students. The pandemic has caused disruptions across the board, and anxiety has become an increasingly common issue, according to Kingsley Elementary counselor Emily Ruby.
"I feel like in the last year. we saw a lot more behavior issues. The pandemic is affecting all of our lives, and it's probably affecting your kids in ways that they can't articulate," said Mrs. Ruby. "So, I guess one piece of advice is to work on identifying and articulating feelings,"
Mrs. Ruby hopes to help lay the foundation for emotional education at school. She teaches two lessons on emotions to elementary students every month.
In the first semester, students learn about identifying emotions and how to regulate them. Towards the end of the year, Mrs. Ruby teaches students some coping and problem-solving skills.
"We talk about things like identifying emotions in yourself and others, and emotional regulation, like 'when I’m angry, this is what I can do, when I’m anxious, this is what I can do,’" said Mrs. Ruby.
Mrs. Ruby also provides a safe space for her students who need an extra minute to process their emotions or things going on at home.
"It's going to be really hard for them to do their schoolwork if they're traumatized by something that happened at home last night. While some kids are resilient and they're able to work through that, not everybody has those skills," she said.
"Do they need a hug? Do they need to play with something for a little bit? Do they want to talk about it? I try to figure out what they need. My job is really focused on ‘how we can be successful during the school day?’" she said.
Mrs. Ruby is also a member on Kingsley's Mental Health and Wellness Committee. The board, which includes administrators and teachers, was formed a few years ago to help proactively address students issues and support those who may be struggling.
"We get together once a month and kind of talk about what's going on. We ask how we can move forward, and try to identify our overarching goals," said Mrs. Ruby.
"In the past, we've done parent nights and child education about mental health. And so we are just trying to figure out how to get the word out to everybody."
In addition to these roles, Mrs. Ruby is also a coordinator for several programs that support homeless students and identify at-risk or in-need students, and support them with resources.
She is the go-between person for programs like Boots for Kids and Blessings in a Backpack, local efforts which donate winter gear, food, and supplies to under-resourced students. At Christmastime, she helps several community donors who wish to sponsor families in need.
All in all, her role is aimed at helping every child who needs a little bit of extra help at school.
She's excited to see society putting more and more of an emphasis on mental health and wellness, and she's happy to be able to support students in a variety of ways.
"When I think of what my I want my kids to be, I want them to be smart, but I also want them to be able to like regulate themselves. function in society, and be kind and empathetic to other people."
"So I think there is some kind of awakening, the understanding that we can't keep going without acknowledging that mental health is really important."
To contact Ms. Ruby, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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