Capital School District sees benefit of more social workers, English Learner teachers
DOVER, Del. – For the last six months, South Dover Elementary School has been able to offer students something they didn’t necessarily have access to before: a licensed clinical social worker. It’s all thanks to new state funding and on Tuesday 47 ABC got the chance to see firsthand how that’s already making a difference.
“The funding and the grant allows us to reach kids that would not get reached without that help,” says William Buczynski, the principal of South Dover Elementary School.
Last year the Capital School District received more than one million dollars, through the state’s Opportunity Funding Program, to hire two new English Learner (EL) teachers and nine Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW).
“These are very very important developmental stage years for the kids and if they’re not prepared mentally to be in the classroom at this point in time it carries out throughout their education,” says Christopher Hampton, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker at South Dover.
At South Dover, officials say these resources are designed to help students who face some pretty tough challenges. “Other things are more traumatic. Things that happen in the home like drug use in the home, parents incarcerated, these are things that really have an effect on a kid and doesn’t even have to be in your home it could be across the street and it’s still going to have an effect on you,” says Dr. Dan Shelton, the Superintendent for the Capital School District.
But the school’s almost 600 students are now being taught lessons in how to react to social situations, even how to process emotions. “They are getting those coping skills and that cognitive behavioral therapy. They stop and they are able to think about it. They can articulate it,” says Buczynski.
School leaders say they’re already noticing a shift. “When I see them practice that and they say well I was able to get myself calm and I had a good day and our kids will tell you that because they know they’ve had some tough days. They’ve had some struggles because their needs weren’t getting met but now through opportunity funding our kids needs are getting met and it’s nice to see that happen in the classroom,” says Buczynski.
Now the overall goal is student success, something officials say happens when kids come to school ready to learn and communicate. We’re told both the social workers and the English Learner teachers help accomplish that same end goal.
Governor John Carney was also at South Dover Elementary on Tuesday as part of his statewide tour of Opportunity Funding Programs in public schools. Carney has already paid a visit to Georgetown Middle School and Georgetown Elementary School as well as Brick Mill Elementary School. He plans to visit Forest Oak Elementary School, Lake Forest Central Elementary School and Laurel Elementary School.
Delaware’s Opportunity Funding Program is guaranteed for three years so it’s not clear what will happen after that time is up. However, the Capital School District is hopeful the funding will continue with the possibility of getting even more money to increase these resources.