Suicide awareness and prevention: School policy (Part 1)

This episode begins a multi-part series on suicide awareness and prevention, where we’ll focus on the multi-layered issue faced by schools, educators and administrators. As part of the overarching discussion around school safety and security, we’ll be delving into the prevention of suicide by looking at behavioral health, risk factors, warning signs, school climate and other factors. Joining in today’s podcast with host Annette Gray, PSBA’s communication director, is Davelyn Smeltzer, PSBA’s senior director of governance services. Davelyn has been heading up the policy work that has been occurring in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. We’ll start our series with today’s part one, which highlights the school policy side of this important topic.

PSBA POLICY – 819. Suicide Awareness, Prevention and Response




National and State Organizations



PDE Resource Links

Available on their website and as part of their policy. A comprehensive set of resources for youth suicide awareness and prevention is accessible at: PDE Suicide Prevention & Awareness


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District’s mountain-biking club promotes wellness, community

In this episode, we go behind the scenes with Elizabethtown Area School District to learn about their innovative mountain-biking club, which is seeing a surge in popularity among students, parents and the community. Joining in today’s podcast with host Annette Gray, PSBA’s communications director, are key members of the districts athletics and management team: Nate Frank, principal; Sean Houseknecht, school club advisor; and Linda Ahern, director of athletics and extracurriculars. We also get valuable perspective from mountain-biking club coach Jason Thomas, who himself is an avid cycler and proud parent of Elizabethtown Area students.

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Ephrata Area students aim higher through Attollo program experience

Attollo Recruit program participants share early-morning team spirit.

In this episode of Keystone Education Radio, we travel to Ephrata Area School District (Lancaster Co.) to talk to students, staff and administrators involved in their Attollo Recruit program, an innovative program supporting equity in the district. The district was recently awarded a first-place Magna Award in the “enrollment under 5,000” category for its Attollo program. Attollo, which means “rise up” in Latin, is designed to help first-generation prospective students reach their postsecondary education goals and become leaders in their community. Hosting the podcast is PSBA’s Marketing Chief Laura Huggins, who talks with a group of students and staff from Ephrata Area administrators: Dr. Brian Troop, superintendent; Dr. Scott Galen, high school principal; Rick Gehman, school director; and students Nicholas Mich (grade 12), Biola Fatusin (grade 11), Aleah Johnson (grade 11) and Alex Nelson (grade 11). We also hear from Attollo Program creator Mr. Jordan Steffy.

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Equity in Pennsylvania schools

In this episode of Keystone Education Radio, PSBA CEO and podcast host Nathan G. Mains talks about equity with Dr. Heather Bennett Esq., PSBA’s director of Equity Services. Dr. Bennett clarifies the difference between equality and equity, and talks about Pennsylvania schools most urgent equity needs. Joining the discussion for the second segment, Michael Faccinetto, PSBA president and Bethlehem Area school director, highlighting equity efforts implemented in the district, how the district began addressing equity and where their efforts are headed.


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Pennsylvania students learn the value of giving back

Community service is an important educational component for Pennsylvania school districts. For  students, successful community outreach, or “service learning,” is an extra opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of his or her own skills while seeking to meet real community needs. In this episode of Keystone Education Radio, we talk to students and teachers from East Stroudsburg, West Jefferson Hills and Colonial school districts, all of whom share a commitment to giving back to their communities.

For more good news stories from Pennsylvania school districts, see, the website host to the multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania.

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Innovative education leadership in Pennsylvania; educator-author Nadia Lopez on education equity

Recorded live at this year’s annual School Leadership Conference, podcast host Nathan Mains first talks with the winners of the newly created Pennsylvania Education Innovation Awards, which seeks to recognize innovative leadership in public school board governance, administration and teaching and is sponsored by CM Regent and CM Cares. Award recipients included:

  • Derry Township School Board President Jennifer Mysel and Superintendent Joseph McFarland
  • Principal Rob Caroselli from Fox Chase Elementary School in the School District of Philadelphia
  • Kristen Albright, library media specialist, gifted support teacher and technology coach at Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School in the Penns Valley Area School District in Centre County

In the second part of this episode, listen in with Nathan as he talks with author and keynote speaker Nadia Lopez, a finalist for the 2016 Global Teachers Prize. Hear her thoughts on educational equity and the lessons learned and documented in her book, Bridge to Brilliance as the founder of a public school called Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn — one of America’s most under-served communities.

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District’s multifaceted approach to backpack program yields greater reach

This episode takes listeners to Williamsport Area High School for an in-depth discussion about their backpack program. The school provides a bag of nonperishable food at the end of each week for participating students to take home and eat when school meal programs are unavailable over the weekend. One of the things that sets Williamsport Area’s backpack program apart from others is that it also involves students in their life-skills program. Learn about how life-skills students manage the program and support their peers, as well as the partnerships and funding that make this program work.

For information on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s backpack partnerships and program, see

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Effective program takes summer learning to where the kids are

In this episode, host Nathan Mains travels to Berks County to visit an innovative summer learning program,Teachers in the Parks. Nathan talks with program creator Matthew Hathaway, a fourth-grade teacher from Exeter Twp. School District, who began TIPS in 2004 working with a handful of his students in a local park. The program currently serves more than 400 students and 30 teachers from several local school districts and in multiple locations — and it’s growing!

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Student nutrition: Middletown Area’s summer lunch program

In this episode, field reporter Steve Robinson and Tony Colemire, Middletown Area’s school nutrition program coordinator, talk about a major student health issue: summer nutrition. In Pennsylvania, recent estimates show that at least half of all school-aged children qualify for a free lunch during the school year, and Middletown Area is taking steps to ensure those students have access to at least one free nutritionally balanced meal Monday through Friday, all summer long.

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Focusing learning through Mindfulness; uniting school and community through bocce

In this episode, host Nathan Mains talks with Karen Krisch, principal of Bellefonte Elementary School in Centre Co., to learn how staff, teachers and students are using mindfulness practices to focus learning and create a culture of kindness. In the second part of this episode, we learn how Strath Haven students employed their bocce club to promote inclusiveness and be a positive force in the community (see the Success Starts Here website to read more).

Resources from the Mindfulness discussion

  • — Most teacher professional development focuses on curriculum delivery. CARE for Teachers is different because it promotes core skills and dispositions teachers need to create and maintain supportive learning environments while retaining their well-being and love of teaching.
  • – A six-week online course introducing mindfulness meditation and helping to cultivate a personal mindfulness practice.
  • www.mindyeti.comMind Yeti is a mindfulness app for kids that can help you: … When life gets overwhelming, Mind Yeti gives both kids and adults a tool to cope.
  • — GoNoodle makes movement and mindfulness an integral part of the day, at school and at home. Free subscription for teachers and parents, or Plus for individual teachers or groups.
  • See Bellefonte Area’s story on Success Starts Here


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