Welcome to this month’s SEL Champion. We are excited to introduce Shalonna Jackson, a Health and Wellness Coordinator Supervisor at Red Oak Behavioral Health, and our April SEL Champion of the Month. Red Oak Behavioral Health is a community mental health center that provides SEL and mental health services as well as advocates for children, youth, and adults. They also provide professional and compassionate care using best practices and trauma-informed approaches.
Shalonna Jackson began working at Red Oak Behavioral Health back in 2011 as a Case Manager, then moving on to therapeutic relations. After the Covid-19 pandemic, Shalonna’s community realized, similarly to other communities world-wide, that the need for social emotional learning was higher. Because of this, her role evolved as the need for SEL in the district increased.
Rebuilding what was lost during the pandemic, regrowing in areas that suffered, and filling in the gaps are of utmost importance to Shalonna and Red Oak Behavioral Health. Because of the pandemic, and the subsequent increase in technology use, Shalonna believes that the younger generations of students need extra social and emotional support. Having increased SEL resources inside and outside of the classroom is essential. This can also alleviate some of the pressure teachers and counselors feel on a daily basis. Shalonna and Red Oak are there to support not only the students, but the teachers as well.
Many schools within the district that Red Oak Behavioral Health services have students that don’t attend school in-person or on campus full time. This means that a big part of Shalonna’s job includes home visits to ensure that all students have access to SEL and the resources that Red Oak Behavioral Health provides. Through home visits, Shalonna isi able to connect with students and their families. Similarly to what we believe here at iMPACTFUL, the most transformative change occurs when the entire family can be involved in the learning process.
As one can imagine, Shalonna says that “The job never gets boring,” and that each day she gets to connect with students, families, teachers, district staff, etc. and directly help people in different ways. She wants everyone to feel like they have support and resources, that no one is alone.
Shalonna's background as a licensed social worker has helped her in her current role. She not only feels like she had a “jumpstart” in understanding the needs of the communities she serves, but this also means that she has access to resources and programming that others might not know is available - making sure the communities she serves have access to the best SEL resources and tools.
At iMPACTFUL, we see a big disconnect between programs, schools, and students. It’s not uncommon for people to struggle connecting the dots between districts, and SEL programming. With Shalonna’s background, she is able to bypass many of the issues other communities face when trying to provide the best SEL programs for their districts.
Shalonna sees the importance of people coming together and working with each other for the benefit of the greater good. In a similar vein, she says that “There are a ton of students, we’re not going to be able to serve all of them. So the more helping hands we have in there the better it is for our district” (Shalonna Jackson).
For those wondering how they can bring a partnership into their community, Shalonna says that by acknowledging every community is different, especially with social emotional learning, is an important place to start. It’s almost impossible to copy and paste what one district is doing into your district, and that health and wellness look different in each community. By finding the gaps, we can see where they are and provide resources to fill those gaps.
If you have someone in your community who you’d like to nominate for iMPACTFUL’s SEL Champion of the Month, click here! We’ll see you next month!