Pending school board approval next month, Southwest Allen County Schools soon will begin seeking applications for a new full-time position supported by a $250,000 federal grant awarded last fall.
The employee will be known as an educational neuroscience coordinator/coach – a role administrator Rachael Harshman acknowledges is difficult to describe and for people to understand.
“This is definitely new territory for us,” said Harshman, director of student services.
The position, which will act as a resource for teachers, will be evenly funded by the district's educational fund and the grant from the Stop School Violence and Mental Health Training program through the Department of Justice.
Harshman expects the district will remain committed to the role when the initial grant funding ends, she said.
“We're excited to have the opportunity to create additional supports for teachers and students,” Harshman said.
The proposed job description details more than a dozen responsibilities. Essentially, Harshman said, the coordinator/coach will work with teachers to help create learning environments conducive to all students. Students who have experienced trauma or adversity should especially benefit.
This can include students who are homeless, hungry or abused, Harshman said.
“Those children show up at school,” she said, “and their brains are not primed for learning.”
Strategies to help students will be informed by educational neuroscience research, Harshman said. The hired candidate must complete the Butler University educational neuroscience certificate program, at no cost to the candidate.
About a year long, the Butler program is designed for educators, social workers and counselors who work with children and adolescents experiencing adversity and trauma, according to its website.
It notes participants become acquainted with the “literature of educational neuroscience, trauma and the brain, and brain development as it relates to behaviors, relationships, and academic acquisition.”
Harshman hopes to fill the position or have a recommendation to the board by spring break, assuming the board approves the position Feb. 5.
The role will likely change over time.
“This position and this work, I have no doubt, is going to continue to evolve,” Harshman said.