Two U-46 employees win award for crisis prevention work
Two Elgin Area School District U-46 employees recently were named among 11 recipients of the "Walk the Talk" awards from the Midwest chapter of the Crisis Prevention Institute.
Glenbrook Elementary School social worker Monica Rivera and Willard Elementary School paraeducator Debra Williams were tapped for the recognition, presented to those workers committed to the care, welfare, safety and security of students and fellow employees.
They are among hundreds of U-46 employees who have undergone crisis prevention training and exemplify its philosophies, said John Heiderscheidt, U-46 director of school safety and culture and a CPI certified instructor.
The district has 26 CPI-certified instructors, who have trained more than 50 percent of its roughly 4,900 employees on handling crises situations.
"It's about empathy and relationships," said Heiderscheidt, who chairs CPI's Midwest chapter. "Some people think of CPI training as restraint training. It is really about de-escalating situations through our movements, tone of voice, the words that we (use). It gives employees a strategy, if there is an escalation, what steps to take. Watching verbal and nonverbal cues from clients, understanding triggers or precursors that would agitate or escalate an individual."
The training gives employees greater ability to predict student behavior and teaches them how to react to noticeable changes, such as fidgeting, anxiety and pacing.
Acknowledging students' discomfort, listening to their problems, and giving them the space and support needed without being confrontational can go a long way toward building a respectful and trusting relationship, Heiderscheidt said.
He added that Rivera and Williams demonstrate such qualities with their students daily.
Rivera develops individualized education programs for students at the Streamwood elementary school. She assesses each student's nonverbal behavior and predicts precursors and triggers that could escalate into crises. She was nominated by Glenbrook Principal Cheryl DeRoo.
"Monica establishes and re-establishes communication with the students regularly with agility," he said. "She knows when to use words or silence to communicate. Monica respects her clients' trauma and uses communication to model behavior for their future."
Williams often works with children with the most significant behavioral issues at the South Elgin school. Students who have an emotional/behavior disorder require patience, care and understanding, officials said.
Willard Principal Julie Leston, who nominated Williams, said she is skilled at reading students and knowing where they are emotionally.
"Deb has always gone above and beyond to show her students how much she cares about them," Leston added.