New Brunswick

School district launches team approach to students' emotional problems

A new government program for students with emotional, behavioural and mental health issues will be implemented in the Anglophone School District West this upcoming school year, according to Catherine Blaney, interim superintendent of the district.

A new three-year plan will focus on creating a positive learning environment for students

Anglophone School District West will have psychologists and social workers working as a team to help students, the interim superintendent says. (Shutterstock)

A new government program for students with emotional, behavioural or mental health problems will be implemented in the Anglophone School District West this school year, says Catherine Blaney, the interim superintendent.

A an approach to the issues known as "integrative service delivery" has professionals working together as a team to help students.

Catherine Blaney, will be interim superintendent for Anglophone School District West until Dec. 1. (Government of New Brunswick)

"Our school psychologists and social workers will be sitting on those teams to support youth and families," Blaney said on Information Morning Fredericton.

The plan is part of efforts to create a positive learning and work environment in schools, she said.

The plan will be implemented over the next three years in the district, which includes 69 schools in Queens, York, Carleton, Victoria and Madawaska counties..

"It will focus on learning with engagement for students and ensure our students are connected to the schools they go to every day."

The goal is to make sure each student feels someone at school cares deeply about them, she said.

'We don't have enough psychologists'

George Daley, the new president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, says schools need more psychologists. (New Brunswick Teachers' Association)

According to George Daley, the New Brunswick Teachers Association President, schools in the province "don't have enough psychologists."

He expressed concern this week about the potential for violence in the classroom and said more psychologists would help alleviate certain problems.

Blaney said the Anglophone West has had difficulty finding psychologists.

"We have five … currently. We have two vacancies and have made many attempts to try and hire."

But she said help for students doesn't all lie with school psychologists.

With the child and youth teams under the district's integrated approach, students "will have guidance counsellors, resource teachers and school social workers."

Gender-neutral bathrooms

The district is also collaborating with schools to address the provision of gender-neutral bathrooms, Catherine Blaney says. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Blaney said the district is also addressing the issue of gender-neutral bathrooms.

The district stepped in after Forest Hill Elementary School in Fredericton infuriated some parents when its four student bathrooms stopped being general-neutral.

According to Blaney, the guidelines of the Department of Education say one washroom has to be designated for boys and one for females. The rest can be universal.

"We very much support gender-neutral bathrooms in any school K to 12," she said. "We have collaborated with that particular school and many schools to make renovations to washrooms to ensure they can be used as universal washrooms."

'Lots to learn'

Blaney will be responsible for overseeing the education and development of thousands of students this fall as the new interim superintendent of the Anglophone School District West.  

The job was held by David McTimoney, who is taking a two-year leave of absence to become acting principal at Oromocto's Summerhill Street Elementary.

Blaney, who has background as director of education support services for the district, will be interim superintendent until Dec. 1, when the candidate for the full-time position takes her place and said there is "lots to learn."

About the Author

Maria Jose Burgos is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate of the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She's originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton