Speaker to discuss mental health and education

Kalispell Public Schools is hosting Mike McKay, director of the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative on Tuesday and Wednesday.

McKay will be speaking on mental health and social-emotional learning as it applies to education, the home and the community in three different sessions. The sessions are free and open to the public.

Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau has heard McKay speak before at a School Administrators of Montana summer institute.

“Mike and I have talked several times. We both [previously] were assistant principals. He said knowing what I now know, if I went back and did my assistant principal responsibilities the exact same way 20, 30 years ago, it would be amoral. Not that we were mean to kids — we did the best we could from what we knew at the time — but now we know so much more about [behavior and development],” Flatau said.

The issue of mental health, trauma and brain development in children has been a focus in the district since receiving a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“We’re dealing with kids who have an increasingly hard time dealing with behavior. We’re looking at creating a districtwide behavior support system,” Flatau said.

To work on the district’s approach to behavior and discipline, it has teamed up with law enforcement, social workers, counselors and the Center for Restorative Youth Justice following participation in an intensive week of training in the School-Justice Partnerships Certificate Program at Georgetown University in September.

MCKAY’S FIRST presentation will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Glacier High School conference room, and is geared to school principals, counselors, social workers, mental health professionals and other support staff who work with students and families.

McKay will focus on what it takes to create learning environments that support all students, especially those who struggle with their social-emotional capacities and mental health. He will give the same presentation from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the conference room.

McKay will also give a presentation geared toward parents, community members and school staff, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday in the Rotary Conference Room located in the Gateway Community Center, entrance “C.” McKay will present on social-emotional learning as it applies at school, home and the community, sharing strategies that help youth develop their capacities to self-regulate — learning how to respond to thoughts, emotions, behaviors and environments.

For more information about the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative visit http://www.self-regulation.ca/.

Hilary Matheson is a reporter for The Daily Inter Lake. She may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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