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Mental health pro joins Midway School effort

It’s always discouraging for Midway High School teacher Krista Jackson to see students drift academically and show signs of dropping out.

Today, several teens in particular are facing major hurdles and are searching for the knowledge, will or power to succeed.

“These are students who are entering their second, third or fourth year of high school. They are still coming through our door and still want something from us,” Jackson said.

To improve education for these reluctant learners, Jackson and Island County Mental Health professional Victoria Santos will not only look at what happens in school but what happens after the last bell of the day.

They recently launched a new course called “Skills for Success” which underlines the connection between teachers, external factors and mental health.

It will target students who do not believe that school will facilitate a better future.

“They’re feeling hopeless and thinking ‘What’s the point of trying?’ It’s to give them some hope and have them come up with their own plan,” Jackson said.

The high school on Midway Boulevard is a credit retrieval school for teens who, for a number of reasons, are deficient in credits. Most of these students have caught up and are engaged in class.

Last year, Midway staff decided to take in a new population of students who were in their third or fourth year and had seven or fewer credits.

“We had mediocre success at reengaging them,” Jackson said.

Two of the 13 students in the program dropped out of school last year, and four are listed as “in school and not engaged,” while six are “in school and engaged.”

Three of the students earned zero credits, while five students earned three to six.

Jackson says there are many underlying issues and roadblocks, which can include drug use, lack of study skills or mental health issues.

While it’s been challenging to identify the best or “right” way to engage the teens, the new program will be generated by the student’s own reflection.

“The kids will ask themselves, ‘Why am I not being successful?’” Jackson said.

Jackson will lead the academic portion of the class, while Santos teaches stress management. They will share a course on healthy lifestyle.

The students will develop a plan for meeting post-high school goals.

The Oak Harbor School Board was receptive to the course idea and it was approved unanimously Monday night.

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