Photo courtesy of Dr. Brian Pearlman
By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.
As part of the whole-student approach to caring for EGPS students and honoring where each of them is in terms of their social-emotional reality, our Student Support Teams work diligently to embody our Strategic Plan, “All Means All.” I had the privilege of attending a Student Support Team (SST) meeting at East Greenwich High School. It was a gift I will not forget for the foreseeable future. We have some truly remarkable adults serving our students and families in EGPS.
What struck me most in the more than 75 minutes that I spent with this group of talented educators was the depth of their knowledge of our students. Repeatedly I heard things occurring in their lives that I wondered who else would know about. The kind of information that students might only share with someone if they have the absolute confidence and trust in that person. The kind of information that takes an emotional toll and shows up elsewhere in their world.
Repeatedly the adults talked about a student and his or her needs. This is part of a progression that typically starts with observations with classroom teachers and grows to targeted interventions supported by specialists. There was no agreement on a path forward without consensus, and everyone was given a voice at the table. Positions did not matter. Titles did not matter. Gender did not matter. Student information was the most valuable commodity at this table. I watched and listened in awe as the adults in this room talked about nothing else but what was in the best interest of each child for more than an hour and 15 minutes.
This one is re-entering this week and needs essential assignments. This kiddo is skipping classes. This person is overwhelmed when they get to this class. This one won’t go to counseling. This kiddo is in danger of not graduating. This person needs an Uber to get to this place.
I was overwhelmed by gratitude listening to these professionals as they took in new information from colleagues, shared the information they had themselves, and then crafted careful steps forward. All in the name of walking with our students on their teaching and learning journey at East Greenwich High School. It was so mesmerizing that, at moments, I stopped taking notes on the individual I was there to observe!
Do you have a relationship with this student? Isn’t there a sibling we have to keep an eye on? Who knows the sibling’s counselor at the other EGPS school? What have we tried that has worked in the past? Is someone in touch with this kiddo’s outside clinician?
From my humble perspective, this comprehensive meeting is ordinary. There were no heroes in that room. There were human beings who have committed their professional lives (and I surmise quite a substantial amount of their personal time) to all the East Greenwich High School students. There are teams like this at each of our six buildings to identify the gaps our young people of the world might slip through and doing everything in their power to close off that possibility.
Our students, our adults, all of us, have endured a great deal since March of 2020, and it’s not something we all willingly talk about. I know that we have people who are still struggling as a result of that in our buildings. I know we have students who are still hurting from the pandemic and also from the reality of life as a person on this planet in 2023. And while we might not see it on the outside, there are people in each of our buildings looking for signs indicating a need.
They are ready to respond. They jump into action. They wrap around our students.
And because of that, I can say: we got this.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.