How one school district is working to meet the emotional needs of its students

Alan Borsuk:

The Brown Deer district deserves praise for its commitment, going back years, on these fronts. The two schools in the district, the middle/high and the elementary, each with about 800 students, have long been involved in character education programs, which led to making a campaign around “The Brown Deer Way” of treating others and conducting yourself in school a core part of the schools’ identities.

And the schools have gone to lengths to train staff, to allow staff to focus on these concerns and to bring in partners from nonprofit organizations, including mental health providers. Yet school leaders will be the first to say they don’t have enough of the tools they really should have.

Brown Deer itself has changed a lot in recent decades. It is a highly diverse community. Just over a quarter of the students in the two schools are white and more than 40% are considered “economically disadvantaged.”