Published in the February 3, 2017 edition

MELROSE — Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School (MVMMS) Principal Brent Conway has announced that the school has received a $10,000 Safe and Supportive Schools grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The grant is designed to help school districts develop and implement safe and supportive school action plans to address the social, emotional and health needs of its students.

MVMMS received the grant in November. It will be used throughout the 2016-2017 academic year to develop a plan for implementation, and then over the summer to expand training and professional development for teachers and staff. The implementation plan will be aligned with the District Strategy Overview and integrated into the school improvement plan.

As part of grant stipulations, school officials’ work will center on the Behavioral Health and Public Schools (BHPS) Framework and Self-Assessment tool, which is intended to assist with documenting current practices that support students’ behavioral health at all intervention levels and provides guidance to teachers and staff on best practices.

“We are excited to have been awarded this grant from DESE, which will help us support all students throughout their time at the middle school,” said Conway. “At the same time, we’ll be focusing on how teachers, parents and staff can most effectively work in a systems method with students to develop an organized and consistent plan to meet the social and emotional needs of young adolescents.”

To facilitate the self-assessment and action plan development, MVMMS is working with consultant Jeffrey Benson, who has over 40 years of experience collaborating with schools, and has formed a team of administrators, teachers and staff. Members include Conway, Assistant Principal Jamie Parsons, seventh grade history teacher Kevin Tierney, librarian Wendy Arnold, special education teacher Brandon Bates, sixth grade geography teacher Rob Mahoney, guidance counselor Molly Magee and French teacher Molly Riendeau.

MVMMS will use a three-tiered approach to complete the work, focusing on universal prevention and support, early interventions to identify and address behavioral health, and intensive services for students with significant needs. The planning team will also address one or more of the six sections of the BHPS Framework:

• Leadership: School and district administrators are creating and supporting school environments and promoting collaborative services.

• Professional development: Training for school administrators, educators and behavioral health providers will be offered and are area specific and cross-disciplinary.

• Access to resources and services: The middle school will be identifying, coordinating and creating school services and links to community behavioral health resources to improve the school-wide environment.

• Academic and non-academic: The middle school will be using approaches that promote academic success and enable all children including those with behavioral health needs to learn.

• Policies, procedures and protocols: MVMMS will be developing documents and a course of action to provide a foundation for implementation and support.

• Collaboration with families: The middle school will be utilizing strategies that effectively engage families as partners in achieving educational and behavioral health goals for all children.

The planning team has already begun meeting and will continue to work throughout the school year to complete the implementation plan, which will include professional development in the summer for a larger group of staff.