By Celia Brocker, Staff Writer
Copyright - Spencer Daily Reporter
Reprinted with Publisher's Permission
The Spencer School Board approved a services agreement with Classroom Clinic, a program which provides rural school districts with timely and convenient access to children’s mental health services, for 2022-23 school year.
Classroom Clinic was first brought to Spencer Schools for the 2021-22 school year. Of the 98 students who were referred to the program, 85 of them were seen. For the remaining students, Director of Student Services Elli Wiemers reported all students completed the “School Consent” to receive services, but the other 13 students failed to follow through for some reason or the other.
“I’d say that’s a really small percentage though, given the way things are,” Wiemers said. “I think that having seen 85 of 98 kids is stellar.”
Of the 85 students seen by Classroom Clinic, the top five diagnoses were generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, adjustment disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and major depressive disorder. Wiemers said students who were recommended for services may have had adverse childhood experiences, which range from events such as divorce to witnessing abuse firsthand. The average Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE score for referred students was 2.67 out of a scale of 10.
“That means there are a lot of kids that have experienced a lot of trauma, and of course we know that COVID didn’t help that at all,” Wiemers said. “We know that there were events that happened in homes that we will never know about, but that traumatized students and that then created this need for them to have somebody to see.”
The program’s other target was to see a 50% improvement in referred students’ scores from an initial Vanderbilt Scale to a final. Though Spencer Schools’ saw a 22% improvement in students’ performance, Wiemers said Classroom Clinic thinks the results were a success.
“The team had to start somewhere and this goal was chosen and agreed upon,” Wiemers said. “For the number that’s not officially met, but per the spirit and the intent of this goal, and the very positive outcomes, classroom clinic would propose that this goal was met, and I think we would agree with that.”
It was decided for the Spencer Community School District to stay at the same capacity for Classroom Clinic’s second year, which will have a net capacity of $45,000. Classroom Clinic’s future goal will be to measure academic performance as each student’s mental health improves using attendance, academic merits and disciplinary referrals.
Spencer Superintendent Terry Hemann was pleased with the results of Classroom Clinic’s first year at Spencer Schools, specifically with the shortened wait time and for the ability for at-risk students to be seen during the school day.
“We’re very happy with our first year of working with classroom clinic and their services,” Hemann said. “They did what they promised they’d do for us, and probably exceeded our expectations in many ways.
He added, “This is exactly what we have so many kids that need, and the convenience of providing services while the kids at school has been a godsend for a lot of families.”