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CASA Classroom enhancing mental health services in NLPS

Northern Lights Public Schools will soon have another option to address students’ mental health needs.

In partnership with CASA Mental Health and Alberta Education, Northern Lights will be establishing a CASA Classroom. The CASA Classroom will provide support for up to 12 students who have one or more mental health diagnoses that are impacting their home and school life. 

“This adds another layer of support to what we are currently able to offer students,” said Board Chair Karen Packard. “We have heard over and over again that accessing supports for children can be challenging in our region. This helps to address that and also ensures that school staff and mental health professionals are working collaboratively to support students.”

Students need to be referred to the program by their child’s school, with support from parents or guardians and the child’s mental health provider and medical provider. Students who are selected to participate spend approximately half of the school year in the program and then receive support for another half of the school year as they transition back to their usual school and classroom. 

The Northern Lights CASA Classroom will be located at H.E. Bourgoin Middle School and will provide services for students in grades 5 to 8 from the Bonnyville and Cold Lake areas. Students will receive academic instruction, as well as individual therapy, group therapy, and psychiatric care as required. The program also includes support for caregivers, providing them with mental health education and connections to community supports and resources. 

NLPS has selected Andrea Farrell as the designated administrator for the program. The program administrator works with schools on the referral process, participates in case coordination, and works with school administrators on transition plans for students returning to their home schools. 

“Andrea is recognized throughout the division as a leader in the area of student supports and services,” said Superintendent Rick Cusson. “During her time as a teacher and administrator she has shown a deep commitment to collaboration, building relationships, and ensuring students have the supports they need to be successful.”

For the last three years, Farrell has served as Principal of Art Smith Aviation Academy. Prior to that she was Assistant Principal at Art Smith for six years. During her time as a teacher, Farrell taught at various grade levels from elementary to high school, and served as the division’s Lead Teacher Behaviour Supports.

“I am thrilled for students and families in our Division to have the opportunity to access this program,” said Farrell. “I am honored to be leading the CASA Mental Health program for NLPS.”