‘Periods of calm down’: Galena Park ISD’s new resources helping students with mental health, emotional support

Galena Park ISD is working to provide additional emotional support for students as they return to class for the new school year.

“I think every year, the beginning of school is probably the best time,” said Lisa Hamblen, Principal Havard Elementary School.

This year, as Galena Park ISD begins classes, the district has a brand-new position.

“Since the pandemic, like most districts across the country, we’ve seen an increase in behavioral concerns,” said Tammy Takeda, Director for Special Education Programs.

The district hired four behavioral technicians for this school year.

“They can come in, they can support a classroom. They can support a specific student, or they can kind of support the whole campus,” said Chad Perry, Senior Director for Special Education. “Those positions really are meant to just be another avenue to support some of our students that have some challenging behavior.”

Children can also get support in one of the district’s sensory rooms, like the one inside Havard.

“This room is for students who are struggling to self-regulate and are sometimes escalated, but sometimes just need a moment to take a deep breath,” said Blair Overman, District Autism Specialist.

Inside the room, children can choose one of the many activities.

“If somebody is really struggling to sit still, they might choose to go jump, they may say, I just need to get energy out,” said Overman.

Kids can play with Legos, put together a puzzle, bounce on a ball or simply lay down.

“They can choose to get in the swing to do that and it gives them the opportunity to just kind of chill. It hugs them and lets them get some movement that they need,” said Overman.

GPISD hopes to help every student reach their fullest potential.

“It’s been very beneficial for us for our specialized students as well as just general and students when we’re having situations that require periods of calm down,” said Hamblen.

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