The Ottumwa Courier

Education

October 9, 2012

On call for kids in crisis: Programs help kids through tough times

OTTUMWA — Parents may vaguely remember the pressures they dealt with as a child. An office at the middle school is devoted to helping kids cope.

“Kids do have stress,” said Tina Walker, a crisis intervention counselor assigned to Evans Middle School. “One thing they stress about is whatever their families stress about; they’re very intuitive.”

Walker runs the Potential Achievers Program as well as the All Stars Class. And while she has an office at Evans, she’s actually an employee of Southern Iowa Mental Health Center.

Walker, by establishing good relationships with students, is able to talk to them about their troubles.

When a child comes to school upset because a beloved pet died, Walker wants to help them — and get them to class. When drugs are involved, a problem that more often plagues older students she follows up on, resolution may take much longer.

“We’re very lucky at Evans. Some schools are doing away with a lot of their extra activities. They may drop music or orchestra or art. Well, art allows them to express that stress.”

Having band, football or science club helps young people either express themselves or burn off energy in a constructive way. So does teaching them about making good choices.

While half her hours are devoted to crisis counseling, Walker teaches the All Star Class, taken by nearly every seventh-grader at Evans, during her remaining hours.

Kids learn about being motivated to do the right thing, and they see the social norms demonstrated by successful students in leadership roles.

To get parents involved, homework requires discussion with “a trusted adult.” Questionnaires may broach subjects like drugs, sex or violence.

“Studies show more success when kids have a trusted adult in the [school] building [and] when parents have those conversations,” Walker said.

She said it is distressing to her when young people joke about drugs. In their hearts, she believes, most find drug use to be foolish. Worse, she said, one in seven kids will face an addiction problem at some point.

Last year, the grant for the class ran out. This year, the Iowa Regional Legacy Foundation donated more than $13,000 to keep it going.

“I got to sit in on one of the classes,” said Kelly Genners, the director of community leadership. “It’s amazing.”

She said the relationship Walker has with the students allows them to talk freely with her about some pretty difficult — but important — topics facing teens.

When you really listen, Walker said, you find that even young teens know more than you might think. And be more generous.

Part of the program encourages students to create a better community.

“To help others, not just look inward at themselves,” said Walker.

After a student received $150 in Christmas money, she donated $100 to the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, enough to buy more than 500 pounds of food for the needy.

“She didn’t do it to be noticed; she understood what a difference it could make,” Walker said. “There’s some really good kids here.”

1
Text Only
Education
  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416 OTT Ron Oswalt mug -T School board member resigns

    OTTUMWA — As this week's school board meeting came to a close, the president read a letter from one of the members. Board President Carol Mitchell read that fellow board member Ron Oswalt was announcing his resignation from the Ottumwa Board of Educa

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT picture Bracelets -M -T Caring Kids

    OTTUMWA — Five fourth-graders didn't need grownups to show them it feels good to help others. They found out firsthand. "I wanted to do a project with the bracelets I make. And it's better to help people than to just do a random project," Kennedy Hug

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT Fairfield business students photo color Fairfield students proving to be future leaders

    FAIRFIELD — At Fairfield High School, students interested in making a career in a business-related field have the chance to join the Fairfield chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a nonprofit organization that helps prepare them for

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National