Community alliances

heatherfiorintino2To boost student academics through enhancing emotional health and overall well-being, schools have a host of community resources they can tap into.

When Florida Supt. Heather Fiorentino felt compelled to better address emotional health of her students and staff, she began by better engaging with the community.

Fiorentino spearheaded formation of Pasco AWARE: Suicide Prevention Task Force, a project of the county’s MACC, or Multi-Agency Coordinating Council of school representatives plus health and human services personnel and community leaders.

Convening once a month, Pasco AWARE collaboratively addresses what the community-at-large can do to buoy one another emotionally to keep its members from losing hope— and potentially losing their lives to suicide. Key components are:

AWARENESS: Raised to all school stakeholders via posters, PSAs and assemblies positioning suicide as a preventable public health threat.

TRAINING: Including instruction delivered in the classroom—infused in a health curriculum developed by the Pasco County Schools staff.

CRISIS PREVENTION/INTERVENTION/POSTVENTION: Student-services staff were trained as gatekeeper trainers and continue to provide this to all instructional and non-instructional personnel at each of 68 Pasco school sites. About 5000 school personnel have been trained thus far.

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