Newport News Public Schools – Update April 2022

Social emotional support program wins NNPS 

When students experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, school social workers provide support as part of the Tiered Emotional and Mental Health Supports program.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) selected Newport News Public Schools’ TEaMS program as one of five 2022 Silver Magna Award winners.

The Tiered Emotional and Mental Health Supports (TEaMS) program began in 2019 and offers a continuum of social and emotional services to students, from classroom lessons to direct outpatient clinical mental health support. Staff members throughout the schools are trained to recognize and address students’ social emotional needs. 

Through TEaMS, all students have access to needed help without absences because licensed therapists are available on site. Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) is the only school system in southeastern Virginia to offer such access to these professionals in schools.

NNPS will be featured in the April issue of American School Board Journal and will be honored at a reception at NSBA’s conference in April in San Diego.

STEAM rises from Sedgefield Elementary students’ brains on activity days

Students at Sedgefield Elementary enjoyed a recent STEAM Day with hands-on lessons that integrated the arts with science, technology, engineering and math.

Newport News Public Schools enjoy a robust emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics), an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach that appeals to all students. Every school has a lead teacher who cheerleads the program and assists colleagues in planning inclusive, active and fun lessons that incorporate concepts from every subject to solve real-world problems in creative ways.

When the school calendar includes a half-day, students at Sedgefield Elementary know that means a STEAM Day. Dee’Jean Mendez, the school’s STEAM lead teacher, reports that attendance, which used to be a concern on half days, is now much higher because students don’t want to miss the fun lessons.

On a recent visit, students in kindergarten learned about polar bears and Matthew Henson, the African American North Pole explorer, before they used toothpicks and marshmallows to build shelters for the bears.

Down the hall, third graders made simple machines and demonstrated their models for the class, while fourth graders researched African American spies, including Josephine Baker and James Lafayette, before they created 3D models of tools to assist their research subject’s spycraft.

Ms. Mendez led her fifth grade class through a lesson on African American quilt block designs and the messages the geometric shapes could convey before they moved to the gym to apply that geometry to creating mazes for robotic balls to navigate with controls from the students’ iPads.

As a result, students enjoy learning that is connected, creative and fun, leading many to feel more confident about studying math and science in the future. 

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