GREENSBORO, N.C. — With shutdowns and stress from the pandemic impacting students, a North Carolina school district is putting more emphasis on mental health resources and approaches for its students.
What You Need To Know
In 2020, a Gallup poll found three in 10 parents reported their child experiencing emotional or mental health challenges
Experts with the National Education Association found social-emotional learning can help students navigating through the pandemic
Ashley Lopez-Davila, a school counselor at Alderman Elementary School, is Guilford County Schools’ Counselor of the Year
Ashley Lopez-Davila is the school counselor at Alderman Elementary School in Greensboro. She started her career with a two-year stint in Teach for America. She loved teaching so much, she signed up for another year. After moving from Texas to North Carolina, Lopez-Davila switched to counseling. She credits her work in teaching to her ability to support students, their families and teachers in the classroom.
"I understand how it is in the classroom and best support students in the classroom and also support the teachers too,” she said.
Lopez-Davila helped her students deal with the challenges and stress of remote learning when the pandemic forced schools to close. She noticed a change in some students as they returned to in-class learning.
Lopez-Davila began approaching social-emotional learning with her students, teaching them to talk through how they feel, control their actions and emotions, and recognizing how to build relationships. She encourages teachers to focus on it in the classroom, and leads lessons in class herself. Lopez-Davila also works with students in small groups or independently.
“It’s very important that they learn at an early age how to handle different emotions and how to be able to calm themselves down. When something gets hard in life, they’ll have those skills, and we’ll have to continue building on those,” she said.
According to a Gallup poll in the 2020 academic year, three in 10 parents reported their child experiencing emotional or mental health challenges. Experts with the National Education Association found teaching social-emotional learning could help students by teaching them how to properly express and control their emotions.
Guilford County Schools Superintendent Whitney Oakley says there’s a focus on mental health resources for students and staff this year.
“We’ve worked really hard to make sure that every student has a trusted adult in the building. That’s one of the main things we can do for mental health support,” Oakley said.
The work Lopez-Davila has done with her students earned her Guilford County Schools’ Counselor of the Year recognition. She’s passionate about helping her students every day. Lopez-Davila hopes to continue helping students, their families and the Alderman community feel safe and supported.