Community Message From Interim Superintendent of Schools Monifa B. McKnight on Student Well-Being and Mental Health

MCPS released the following community message on Tuesday, April 19:

Dear MCPS Parents, Guardians and Community Members:

I hope that you and the children in your lives had a great spring break, got some rest and enjoyed free time with each other. While many of us may feel that spring break went by far too quickly, others were more than ready to return to the familiar pattern of school days and the projects, sports or studies that fill our days. Each family is unique.

We know that along with the joy of family gatherings and holiday celebrations can come increased risk of infection from COVID. Let’s remain vigilant and keep our schools as COVID-free as possible. Please encourage your child to get tested, report results and stay home if they are sick. And as always, respect those who choose to mask out of an abundance of caution.

As students and staff return to classrooms and schools, I want you to know how much we value our community’s well-being–because mental health matters! It matters to me. It matters to our school system. I want the members of our school communities to be able to take the time and care for their mental health at school, as well as at home.

This is the final stretch of the school year. Everyone in our schools is there for our students and families—I want to provide the supports our community needs to thrive socially, emotionally and academically.

Over the last few weeks, I have heard students loudly and clearly: Students like Sam and Himanshu have come before the Board of Education to call on us, as adults, to prioritize well-being. I hear students asking for adults with whom they can share confidential challenges, to believe in and instill confidence in them, and to connect them with additional resources. And I understand that students are also asking for us to think differently about how we structure the time that they are in school. Students need time to decompress. They’ve asked me to explore more opportunities for unstructured time so they can commit to recharging.

Our students are not alone in needing to prioritize their mental wellness. Staff are also looking to achieve a balance that will allow them to take care of themselves. They want to best serve our students, which requires time to adequately prepare for what is expected of them. We must foster and celebrate adults’ attention to wellness.

Though mental health and social-emotional wellness have historically been part of the school experience, they have taken on increased prominence in the wake of COVID-19. And we are proud of what we’ve been able to put in place:

  • A social-emotional curriculum, Leader in Me.
  • Additional counselors, including those who support emergent multilingual learners transitioning to the school system.
  • Parent community coordinators and student well-being teams operating in all schools.
  • Expanding restorative justice supports through coaching and additional staff training.

We’re still working on:

  • Hiring and placing social workers in all high schools.
  • Rolling out the Leader in Me social-emotional curriculum to more schools.
  • Expanding restorative justice supports through coaching and additional staff training.
  • Exploring innovative ways to hire more psychologists and counselors into schools.
  • Building strategies to have wellness opportunities offered every day in every school.
  • Expanding mindfulness spaces and practices.

Everyone in our school buildings is there to ensure our students’ success. As we head into the final weeks of school, if your child feels anxious, nervous, concerned, a little bit confused and even excited—these are all normal feelings. However, if a child feels that they cannot manage these emotions in a healthy way, please reach out to your child’s school, encourage them to see their school counselor or other trusted adult, and we’ll help them get the help they need.

I am eager to work with you to find the best solutions possible to ensure all of our community members are safe, feel confident and secure, and have every opportunity to learn. I will continue to listen, including through a series of upcoming community conversations about how we can work together in support of our children.

Sincerely,

Monifa B. McKnight, Ed.D.

Interim Superintendent of Schools

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17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Now in its 17th year, the Kensington Day of the Book Festival is a family-friendly street festival featuring 150+ renowned authors, poets, and literary organizations. Enjoy live music on five stages, special guest speakers, military veteran writers and comedians, poetry readings, cookbook demos, children's program, and much more.

Admission is free, and attendees will also be able to explore a marketplace of books and food offerings from local vendors.

Not your average book festival! This festival offers something for everyone!

17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11am-4pm (held rain or shine!)

Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

www.dayofthebook.com

Instagram: @kensingtonbookfestival

Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

[email protected]

301-949-9416 (text preferred)

FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival

Get ready to experience the vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and infectious rhythms of the Caribbean at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival! Hosted by RHU LLC, this exciting festival is set to take place on May 18, 2024, at the picturesque 16700 Barnesville Rd in Boyds, MD.

Step into a world where the Caribbean spirit comes alive! From 12:00 PM onwards, immerse yourself in a sensory journey that celebrates the unique culture, cuisine, and music of the Caribbean. Whether you're an African American, a Reggae or Soca music enthusiast, a wine lover, or part of the vibrant Caribbean diaspora, this festival promises to delight and captivate you in every way.

Let the enticing aromas of mouthwatering Caribbean dishes tantalize your taste buds. Feast on traditional delicacies prepared by expert chefs, showcasing the rich and diverse culinary heritage of the Caribbean. Indulge in flavorful jerk chicken, succulent seafood, and delectable plantain dishes that will transport you straight to the islands.

Accompanying the culinary extravaganza is a carefully curated selection of premium wines, ensuring the perfect pairing for your palate. Sip on fine wines from renowned vineyards, each sip a reflection of the Caribbean's vibrant spirit. Discover new flavors, expand your wine knowledge, and savor unforgettable moments with every glass.

As the sun sets, get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Caribbean music. Feel the pulsating beats of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso, moving your body to the lively melodies. Live performances by talented musicians and performers will keep the energy high, ensuring a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Don't miss this opportunity to embrace the Caribbean spirit and celebrate the arrival of spring in style! Tickets are available on AllEvents, so secure your spot today. Join us at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival, where cultures collide and unforgettable memories are made.

LIVE PERFORMANCES By: CULTURE Feat. Kenyatta Hill, EXCO LEVI, IMAGE BAND, RAS LIDJ REGG'GO with Special Guest SUGAR BEAR FROM E.U. & MORE! & MORE!

MUSIC By: DJ ABLAZE, DJ SMALLY & NAJ SUPREME

2 NIGHT Camping packages available: RV/CAMPER $200 | TENTS $150 Starting on Friday May 17 @ 5pm | 30 RV SPACES | 30+ TENT SPACES

KIDS 12 & UNDER FREE!!!

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