School Safety in Southwest Florida: 5 Ways to Intervene


At the start of the academic year, Collier County rolled out a suite of five interventions designed to address students’ emotional and social needs. Other districts are taking note: Twice last semester, Superintendent Kamela Patton presented this package to her fellow Florida superintendents.

New Student Check-Ins: On new enrollees’ first, 30th and 60th day, a school counselor visits with them to see if they are adapting well or need additional support.

Handle with Care: When a faculty member or administrator learns that a student is undergoing a traumatic experience, a team meeting is called to let any adult who has contact with the child know that he or she may be under duress (the details are kept private). Teachers can consider academic accommodations during the designated Handle with Care period and know to watch for signs of increasing distress.

social and emotional learning Videos: During morning announcements, principals periodically will discuss and show videos about personal development skills—what “grit” is, for example, or how to shift from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset.”

Buddy Benches and We Dine Together: Elementary students are being introduced to “buddy benches,” where they can take a seat if they want a playmate, a lunch companion or someone to talk to. Fellow classmates, trained as “Friendship Ambassadors,” will sit with them or invite them to play, in an effort to end isolation before it unravels a child’s self-esteem. (See the main story for We Dine Together, for middle and high schools.)

Student Surveys: The district hired the Boston-based Panorama Education to conduct a survey in grades three through 12. It measured how students feel about themselves and how they feel about their schools. Based on those results and other considerations, district administrators decided to focus on a single developmental skill—“grit.” Learn more here

Related: School Safety in Southwest Florida: More Locks, More Cops and Bigger Hearts