How Blyth Academy is tackling mental health post-COVID
Does Blyth recognize IEP’s?
Blyth Academy takes a more personalized approach to Individualized Education Plans. Guidance Counselors create Student Support Plans which have all of the information from an IEP but with added information about the student, so our teachers get a better understanding of who the student is as person/learner and not just about accommodations and needs.
What happens if my child is having an issue? Who can they speak with?
Blyth Academy creates a safe environment for all students to feel comfortable and be able to express who they are as individuals. Guidance has an open-door policy where students can come and talk about how they are feeling and if they are experiencing any social, emotional, mental or academic issues. Teachers and principals also create safe spaces for students to open up and articulate their thoughts and feelings. The beauty of Blyth is that connections are built amongst the staff and students where the students feel comfortable talking to at least one staff member and always have a safe place to go to.
What has Blyth done to prepare with the increase in mental health issues with students?
All principals, guidance counselors and teachers have taken part in mental health workshops throughout the year. The workshops discussed how to help students when they are experiencing a mental health issue, what signs/symptoms are the most common amongst adolescents and how to support our students if they are struggling with their mental health.
What does the small class size have to offer?
Small classroom sizes allow our teachers to know all of their students learning profiles; areas of strength, areas of needs and accommodations. Teachers are able to tailor their teaching styles to the students in their classes which provides a safe space for students to explore their learning styles and needs.
What happens if my child is need of mental health resources?
Should a student require assistance with their mental health, our guidance counselors have a list of resources within the community that they can provide them in order to get professional help for their mental health issue.
The jump from middle school to high school is significant, emotionally and academically. For those students who entered high school, virtually and isolated, how does guidance/teachers/admin recognize and support these emotional and social gaps?
The Launchpad program is specifically designed to help our new high school students gain the skills that are required to be in successful high school. The course that is taught throughout Launchpad is Learning Strategies where students will learn effective study skills, time management, organizational skills. The students also get extra support for the current courses they are taking each term, have specific activities to enhance their social skills and strategies to be able to handle the expectations of high school. *This is Mississauga specific but we also provide workshops at the beginning of the year for all campuses on the following: Note Taking, Time Management, Research and Citation, Testing Strategies, Study Skills and Email Etiquette.
Because of the way grades have been handled in some boards, students are lacking motivation. How are you motivating students who have essentially had grades handed to them for two years?
The small classroom sizes allow for our teachers to modify their teaching style to reach all of their students, create an environment where students feel comfortable to ask questions and engage in discussions as well as build on their confidence to succeed in their courses. Teachers emphasize the importance of developing a strong work ethic in order to succeed in post-secondary education. The administrators and teachers at Blyth acknowledge that for a student to be motivated they need to believe in their own strengths and abilities so as a school we build on our students’ strengths and enhance their confidence within themselves.
Because of the isolation and uncertainty of the past few years, anxiety amongst teenagers has reached all new heights. How is this supported?
All staff at Blyth Academy have been trained on “Mental Health First Aid” and know what to do should a student come to them in the midst of a mental health issue. Our teachers are accommodating and understanding when a student is struggling with their mental health and work with the student and the guidance counselor to ease their stress in the classroom. The guidance counselor also provides a safe place for students to come to if they are experiencing anxiety. The guidance counselor will help deescalate their anxiety through various techniques and get them to a place where they feel comfortable to go back to the classroom.
For those student who started the pandemic in grade 10, and are now in grade 12, how are you preparing them for university, given all that they have missed academically and socially in the past two years?
In the beginning of the school year, we provided all of our students with workshops on five skills we believe are integral to being a successful student: Note Taking, Time Management, Research and Citation, Testing Strategies and Study Skills. Teachers assess their students and provide extra support for students who may have gaps in their knowledge and help them bridge those gaps with their current course content. Campuses will host different events to help the students engage with one another and help rebuild social skills that may have been lost due to the pandemic. Each grade 12 student will meet with their guidance counselor to go over their post-secondary goals and have real conversations of what that will look like and what steps the student needs to take in order to be successful when entering university/college. *The Mississauga campus has university week each term where classes are structured more like class lectures/tutorials. Students are given an assignment for that week (without a rubric) and will be graded at a university level (if the student is successful it can count towards their final grade).
Lead Guidance Counselor
Blyth Academy Mississauga
A Student Story
James Wren, Blyth Academy Lawrence Park Alum
Carleton University, Public Affairs and Policy Management
Jamie spent the majority of his elementary and middle school years in small classroom environments. Upon entering grade 9, he changed school boards and found himself at a large new school where he knew few students. At his new school, he was criticized for participating in class which contributed to a feeling of being disengaged. Jamie was always an excellent Math student but by the end of the fall in Grade 9 he was convinced that “he couldn’t do Math”. His Math teacher had been an Art teacher and was not qualified to teach Math. His Science teacher had taught PhysEd for 20+ years and knew nothing about Science. Believing that he was no longer “good at school” Jamie started skipping class. The more overwhelmed he felt, the more he procrastinated and his grades snowballed; eventually cumulating in him not attending school.
Jamie started at Blyth LP in September 2020, at first feeling anxious but then, after two days, felt like he was home. His English teacher in particular, Mr. Nault, gave him a reason to do well and keep up momentum. His math teacher, Mr. Saklica, was also noteworthy making him love math again.
Teachers actually care at Blyth. The classes are small enough for teachers to get to know and understand each student and how they work
The biggest difference between Blyth LP and his home school? Having the two classes helped Jamie absorb and understand the course content. He was able to focus on only two classes which allowed him to prioritize his school work and find a better balance.
Jamie is part of the 2021/2022 graduating class of Blyth LP and will be going to Carleton University for Public Affairs and Policy Management in September. Congratulations, Jamie- we are so proud of you!