Amid youth mental health crisis, a Colorado district creates a school for students who need more support

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Next month, the Cherry Creek School District will open a first-of-its-kind facility — part school, part therapeutic mental health facility — to meet the needs of students in crisis.
The number of facilities in Colorado that serve students with intense mental health or behavioral needs has drastically dwindled over the past 20 years, leaving many children without critical care. The new Traverse Academy is an effort to address that problem.
Once open, it will serve students ages 10 to 18 who have severe behavioral, social, or emotional challenges, or are experiencing serious depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or suicidal ideation, district officials said.
“This school will save lives,” said Cherry Creek Superintendent Chris Smith.
Tony Poole, the assistant superintendent of special populations for Cherry Creek School District, shows off one of the transition clas..

How bibliocounseling can create space for Black girls and girls of color to connect in school

Like many school counselors, Christina Tillery had trouble reaching kids during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020-21 school year, only 100 out of 1800 students opted for in-person learning at her school, while her office remained in the building. Despite the challenges, Tillery used the opportunity to develop programming that could help her connect with students in new ways. Through many brainstorming sessions, she planned a bibliocounseling group, which she launched the next year. This group used literature to “facilitate therapeutic conversations and promote emotional well-being,” Tillery explained in a workshop at the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) conference last summer.
The bibliotherapy group brought together about a dozen students together under the supervision of Tillery and another school counselor at Highland Springs High School, a public school in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. This group read a book together and met weekly six times to..