The National School Boards Association selected Newport News Public Schools’ TEaMS program as a 2022 Silver Magna Award winner. The Magna Awards recognize school divisions for efforts that support underserved students.
Newport News Public Schools established Tiered Emotional and Mental Health Supports (TEaMS) in 2019. The program offers a continuum of social and emotional services to students, ranging from classroom lessons addressing social emotional learning to direct outpatient clinical mental health support. Classroom teachers, school counselors, student support specialists, social workers and psychologists are trained to recognize and address students’ social emotional needs.
The TEaMS approach removes barriers to mental health care by providing services at no cost to families. The program fully funds licensed clinical mental health therapists who serve in the school setting, allowing all students access to help without absence from school. Having the support of school therapists frees up school counselors to perform other tasks.
It is highly unusual for a school system to count licensed therapists among its staff, and Newport News is the only school system in southeastern Virginia to offer access to these professionals in schools, according to Michelle Price, Director of Public Information and Community Involvement.
Employees serving in the TEaMS program are able to address a wide variety of mental health needs at an appropriate level before issues become acute.
In addition to TEaMS professionals, all building-level employees in Newport News Public Schools are trained in the Youth Mental Health Awareness curriculum, equipping them to recognize mental health needs and refer students for assistance.
In the future, Newport News Public Schools plans to expand the reach of the TEaMS program by assisting school social workers to earn licensed clinical social worker credentials.
Dr. Michele Mitchell, executive director for student advancement in Newport News Public Schools, says, “We recognize the increasing need for mental health services and want to make sure every student with that need is served without disruption to learning. We are so pleased to offer this range of support to Newport News students and their families.”
The school system and the other Magna Award winners will be featured in the April 2022 issue of American School Board Journal and will be honored at a reception during the National School Boards Association’s annual conference in April in San Diego.