The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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March 30, 2013

Working together for students’ needs

GREENVILLE — Recent mass shootings, such as those in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., have ignited a gun debate that has sharply divided our nation.

But these events have also impacted the mental health of students in Hunt County.

An increasing number of students are requiring mental evaluation and counseling because of their reaction to being exposed to the horrific nature of these mass shootings, according to Joel Klein, chief executive officer for Glen Oaks Hospital.

“We are seeing more kids because of recent events,” he said.

In the past, Texas required schools to continue a child’s education during their stay.

But in recent years, the state has waived that requirement.

Since then, many children returning from a stay find it hard to re-adjust to the busy life of a student, and tend to fall behind in classes.

An unfortunate side-effect that Greenville Independent School District Superintendent Don Jefferies is working to minimalize.

Jefferies has created a self-paced online education program for children staying at the Glen Oaks to use, and has GISD teachers come to the hospital to help teach.

“We didn’t want the kids missing any more days,” he said. “These kids need the educational services.”

Jefferies has been working closely with Klein, and Harold Gregory, director of alternative education for Hunt Couny, to ensure children do not fall through the cracks of the education system.

“It’s not required to have a school here,” Klein said. “These guys stepped up and said ‘we want to do it anyway.’ It’s a great plus for us. This will make sure that any kids with special needs get taken care of.”

Glen Oaks accepts any child not only in Hunt County, but also in the region, and Klein said he has been impressed with GISD’s commitment to the children.

“This is a great relief for the community,” he said.

A child’s stay at the hospital is kept confidential. And once their stay is over, the hospital is able to send the student’s grades back to their school so the student can make an easy transition.

“We all work together for the good of the kids,” Jefferies said.

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