Elkhart Community Schools firmly believes that the safety of our students is paramount to the educational process. Thanks to the community support and 2014 passage of the school referenda, ECS was able to invest in significant safety improvements in our schools. By the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, every classroom became equipped with Columbine-style locking doors that can be locked from both inside and outside the classroom.
All 21 school buildings have entry doors that immediately lead to a school office, where all visitors are screened, with their ID cards processed through Raptor before they are allowed further.
Additional safety measures include lighting, video cameras, PA system improvements and school-to-parent communication methods.
Elkhart Community Schools is a recognized leader in bullying prevention. All new teachers receive a full-day of Olweus bullying prevention and intervention training. All employees have annual refreshers.
Over 200 high school students participate in an annual intensive, one-day summit geared toward training teens to identify bullying behaviors and safe strategies to provide assistance to those being mistreated. This event is led by the nationally acclaimed organization STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) and is funded by a United Way of Elkhart County Innovation Grant.
Each high school and middle school has a student-led club called “Move 2 Stand” that strives to empower students to raise awareness of bullying behaviors and prevent peer mistreatment. Move 2 Stand students also mentor elementary students through sharing personal experiences, reading anti-bullying books and providing assemblies.
In addition to weekly class meetings, each elementary school has posters and holds assemblies with students to remind them of the four key rules about bullying prevention:
We will not bully others.
We will help others who are being bullied.
We will include others who are being left out.
If we know someone is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and home.
Mental Health Awareness
Elkhart Community Schools has long believed in a proactive approach to youth mental health. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. We recognize this statistic and have collaborated with our local community mental health provider, Oaklawn, to provide Systems of Care Facilitators in 17 schools in our district. The facilitators provide assistance to families and staff by helping to first identify students who may benefit from mental health support, and then referring families to appropriate service. Once services and supports are in place, the facilitator then ensures that ongoing communication occurs between the family, the mental health provider and the school. Elkhart Community Schools, in conjunction with Oaklawn and Elkhart County Court Services, is proud to be the only Indiana recipient of the 2014 SAMSHA Now Is The Time: Project AWARE grant, which provides funding to train teachers, staff and individuals throughout the community who interact with youth to identify youth in mental health crisis and be able refer them to the appropriate treatment location. Within two years, over 750 people in the Elkhart community will be trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Elkhart Community Schools also has a full team of school psychologists, behavior consultants, counselors and social workers on staff who are available to help with mental health issues.