Students come to Skyline Academy, which operates year-round, at Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being to work on issues that are keeping them from becoming successful in other school environments. And although students have been learning remotely, it has not prevented our staff from providing the support our students and their families need.
“This has exacerbated some of the vulnerabilities already in place. And it hasn’t been easy, but everyone on our team has been up to the challenge,” said Maury Holliman, mental health therapist at Skyline Academy. “School is a safe place for a lot of kids and a place where they get structure, emotional support and food. It’s important they know that we haven’t gone anywhere.”
Teaching Mindfulness & Socioemotional Skills
The Skyline Academy team contacts each of their roughly 20 students each day. Every week Maury and her team develop several videos based on mindfulness or socioemotional learning for the kids to watch. Some kids don’t have computers, and some families don’t speak English as a first language. Employees are doing their best to ensure families have the technology and emotional support they need.
“Most of our kids are actively engaged and completing their work,” she said. “There are various hurdles, but our kids are incredible, and our staff has stepped up tremendously.”
Maury has worked for the Mental Health Center of Denver for about three years. She started as an administrative assistant at the Recovery Center and transitioned to her current role in April of 2019. A large part of her role is to help the students notice things that have gotten in their way of success in the past and develop new skills.
“I’m there to support teachers so they can do their jobs,” Maury said. “And I’m there to help the kids figure out how they’re going to return to public school.”
Connecting with Students in New Ways
Maury helps ensure the three classrooms at Skyline Academy are positive and encouraging learning environments. She supports teachers in noticing triggers in children and provides academic support when needed. Her job also involves helping with crisis management, de-escalation and safety planning. She also facilitates groups where she teaches behavior and socioemotional skills.
“A lot of my success comes from connecting with the kids,” Maury said. “I’m lucky that for the most part I had good relationships with the kids before this happened.”
For Maury, it’s been fun to connect with the kids in a different way and chat with them over the phone when typically she has no contact with them outside of school.
“They have creative, engaged minds and can find the positive in the situation,” she said. “It’s been fun to connect with them and so good for me to focus on something outside of myself and my own worries.