Principals passionate about their schools, student mental health

CLINTON — Teary eyes filled the library at Clinton Junior High School Tuesday night when Clinton Elementary School Principal Sasha Young talked about her school, recently rated as “underperforming” by the state of Illinois. 

“Over the last three years, our scores are trending up. Every year our kids are doing better in every single grade,” said Young. “We are not where (the state) wants us to be, but we are doing better. I’m good with that.” 

“They (the state) also don’t take into consideration that 62 percent of our third graders met and exceeded in math.  The state average in math was 32 (percent). So, our third graders rocked the math test and that’s not something that’s shown in that underperforming category.” 

Young said students in grades 3-5 all tested better in both English and math than the state average and two of the students scored perfect scores on the state test. Young provided even more examples of how CES students and teachers are stepping up in both academic and community efforts.  

“Is it underperforming when your teachers rally around and face tragedy? That is not underperforming,” said Young through tears. “I am so proud of that school and where it has come from. CES is not underperforming in any way, shape or form and that is an insult to us. We know where our needs are and we’re attacking it.” 

“When it comes to designation, a single snapshot is just not it,” added Clinton High School Principal Jerry Wayne. “There is more to it than just that name that the state of Illinois has unfortunately decided to plop onto schools everywhere when it just doesn’t tell the full story.” 

“I want to commend you (Young) and your staff and everything you’ve done in the process of getting our kids to continue to get better and you never need to apologize for having passion for your kids, your building and our community. Never.” 

Wayne continued: “We have talked about it for years that there is a need and a concern for the mental health of all of us. Unfortunately, we had to deal with that again. But, we are trying to attack that and when I say ‘we’ I’m talking across the board because there is nothing more important to any of us who are in this room, and hopefully, anywhere, than the well-being of a child, the well-being of a family. We do everything we possibly can—day in and day out—to watch out for those who are here with us. And, I’ll be danged if I am ever going to apologize to anybody who tries to say anything other than that because they’re wrong. They have no idea.” 

Wayne said a staff member came to him last April suggesting youth mental health first aid training to provide “the opportunity for our teens to be trained on being able to help themselves and others when they’re dealing with difficult times.” A district-wide mental health training will be held January 17.  

“A commitment to the mental health of our teens was happening in April of last year,” said Wayne. “People don’t necessarily know about it, but the suggestion that we don’t care and aren’t doing those things is absolutely wrong.” 

“We will be training every sophomore through senior in Clinton High School in the spring semester on teen mental health first aid,” said Wayne. The students will be trained to “have skills that can help them to manage and deal with mental health stuff that is going on.” 

“Don’t tell us we’re not working on trying to help out our kids.” 

In other business, 

the board: 

Approved the purchase of six new buses at $92,969 per bus with six trade in buses totaling $78,000 from Midwest Bus Sales.  

Approved earlier start times for winter sporting events for the 2020-21 school year. 

Approved the immediate employment of Kim Wilson as an aide at Lincolne School. 


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