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Secretary Cardona visits CCSD students, teachers

Miguel Cardona roundtable
Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 23:06:31-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Mental health in our schools matter right to the top of America’s education system. Local students heard that message in person today from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

It was Miguel meeting Miguel at Spring Valley High School. Senior Miguel Torres meeting with Secretary Cardona for a roundtable discussion on mental health. Torres makes a point about what school means to him and his peers.

“School for a lot of people is where students go to express themselves and be themselves,” he said.

Distance learning was tough for many Clark County School District students. Torres explained to Secretary Cardona the groups that students leaned on were gone.

“After a year of online school and all of the extra-curriculars put to the side, re-establishing that has been a really big challenge,” he said.

Cardona says he recognizes that and says the money from the American Rescue Plan can help fund activities in schools and keep them open.

“Co-curricular activities matter. Having something to do after school matters where I can connect with students matter,” he said.

Other students expressed the continued need for more staffing of counselors and access to therapists to help students talk about their emotional pandemic struggles. Cardona says the president is proposing doubling the number of counselors to help address the issue. Ultimately, he says it’s all about strengthening relationships and connections in the classroom and on campus.

“If we’re not reopening our schools and making sure that emotional well-being is at the heart of our schools, then we’re going to miss an opportunity to give students to flourish with their potential,” he said.

The pandemic certainly brought out the phrase thinking on your feet just ask teachers at Charlotte Hill Elementary School.

“Quite a challenge going from in-person learning to virtual and trying to figure programs to use and ways to connect with the kids.”

Julie Darwick has taught at the school for more than two decades. On this day, she got an audience with Secretary Cardona. Along with school administrators, they spoke at a roundtable of the issues they like to see addressed. Darwick talked about reducing class sizes.

“Having a class size of 20 or maybe even less, it would be such an opportunity to build relationships with the kids on a deeper level,” she said.

She says it’s one way of helping retain or recruit new teachers. CCSD has hundreds of teacher openings.

“If that was to become a reality, I’d think you’d see many teachers wanting to come to CCSD,” Darwick said.

Secretary Cardona says the federal budget and the American Rescue Plan will give funding to schools to hire more staff. He says the money can go a long way.

“When you create working conditions where teachers feel like they’re part of a team, that’s meeting the needs of our students, they’re more likely to want to stay,” he said.

Darwick says Secretary Cardona listened to her and her colleagues and believes he’ll keep their suggestions in mind.

“I really think he’s going to take them to heart and take them back to Washington and make them a priority,” she said.