The value of a program to strengthen bonds and trust between students and staff – as well as other students – was not questioned by Karnes City Independent School District’s board of trustees, but finding the right time to fit in that training with other priorities will take coordination with administrators.

That was the decision the board reached after hearing a presentation on Capturing Kids Hearts, a program that is aimed at reducing student and staff anxiety and stress. It focuses on helping to build an encouraging atmosphere that maximizes students’ potential and creates a positive environment where they feel safe and appreciated.

“I am proposing every employee in the district attend training this year,” Superintendent Hector Madrigal told the board.

The program is designed so that staff meet and greet students and look for signs of their emotional health and to offer encouragement and support. The students are also encouraged to offer positive feedback to other students and to support each other, thereby reducing or even eliminating bullying.

One veteran teacher who has nine years experience in education said she had gone through the program and it helped her, but she is concerned about adding one more priority to an already heavy workload, especially for new teachers.

“It’s good training and a great program, and a lot of people could benefit,” she said. “But I feel like I’m already drowning (in responsibilities). I feel like I’m doing five times the work this year with half the planning time. And I worry about the extra load being placed on our first-year teachers.”

Board members and Madrigal talked about the need for principals and teachers to talk about the best time to implement the Capturing Kids Hearts training, rather than for the extra requirements to be abruptly added to their workload.

Madrigal and board member Alex Kotara suggested that maybe in November or January, the training could be fit into in-service training schedules.

The cost of the program district-wide over a multi-year period will be $110,665.

•josborne@mysoutex.com•

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