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Ozark School Staff Participates in Behavioral Risk Assessment Training

Ozark School District is continuing its focus on mental health awareness as eight District employees participated in a Behavioral Risk Assessment training Aug. 24. Conducted by staff from the Missouri School Boards’ Association’s Center for Education Safety, the training is designed to ensure the safest possible learning environment for students and teachers.

“It is important for everyone to be able recognize and report warning signs,” said Gerald Chambers, Ozark School District executive director of student services. “According to research, none of the perpetrators of school violence ‘just snapped.’ We need to know our students and staff and be able to provide support and intervention.”

While Ozark School District hosted the event, the Christian County Juvenile Office helped fund it, paying for up to one team — four employees — from each school. A total of seven area school districts attended, including two teams from Ozark.

The focus of the training is to help teachers and school staff identify potential issues related to safety and prevent violence in the school setting. It includes a discussion of the elements of an effective school risk assessment program and information aimed at helping teachers and staff understand that school violence is often preventable.

“Research is clear that students are not able to learn effectively and teachers are not able to teach effectively if the environment they are in is not safe and secure,” says Center for Education Safety Consultant Amy Bledsoe. “Safety is more than a locked door or metal detectors. It includes a school climate that encourages relationship building and that leads to reporting of possible safety issues.”

Chambers said the training was very beneficial and Ozark participants will now take that information back to their buildings to train others.

“Our goal is to understand how and why violence prevention is important and how risk assessment works,” he said. “According to research, almost every perpetrator told someone or wanted to be stopped. We need to be able to recognize the risk factors.” 

This is the next step in a year focused on increasing awareness of mental health. In early August, many Ozark teachers participated in classes where they discussed how a student’s trauma experiences and mental health diagnoses can affect the classroom, as well as how to recognize and work with students exhibiting signs and symptoms of trauma. Other classes offered centered on mental health and how to recognize indicators of suicide.