Independence Local Schools News Article

Resources and Support

Mental Health Resources:

School Counselors:

Brooke Gradert, Primary School                          

(216) 624-5870 ext. 1402

[email protected]


Lisa McClain , Middle School                                 

(216) 624-5865 ext. 1305

[email protected]


Mary Dolejs, High School (grades 9 & 11)                      

(216) 624-5860 ext. 1207

[email protected]


Connie Aquilano , High School (grades 10 & 12)           

(216) 624-5860 ext. 1207

[email protected]

School counselors are available as ongoing resources. Frequent check in’s available and encouraged.  Please note, that Independence Local Schools' mental health support staffs do not maintain 24-hour access to email accounts.  



To anonymously report a threat to student safety:

  • Safe Schools Helpline:    

Call: 1-800-4-1-VOICE (1-800-418-6423) ext. 359

                        Text: 66746, TIPS

                        Access Link:

  • Children and Family Services - (216) 696-KIDS 


In the event of a mental health emergency:

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.

  • 24 Hour Crisis Support Hotline/Support Hotline:  (216) 623-6888


Suicide Prevention:

  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts: National Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273 TALK (8255)

  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text: NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line. 

Preventing Youth Suicide

Social/Emotional Wellbeing & COVID-19:

The health, safety and well-being of the students and staff at Independence Local Schools
is a priority and we are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

Parent Guide to COVID-19 Resources to Help Their Children 
Find suggestions, links and resources to help with stress, anxiety and trauma.

How to Support Your Child’s Health and Well-Being During Ohio’s Ordered School-Building Closure
Assistance with Food
- The Cleveland Food Bank has delivery partners.  In order to have your name added to the list call (216) 738-2067.
- School lunches can be ordered daily.  Will need to call and make special arrangements for pickup.
        - Any questions please call (216)642-5860 Ext 1208
        - CLICK HERE for an order form.
- ST. MICHAEL FOOD PANTRY  - Call 216-524-1394
Resources from Windsor Laurelwood
CLICK HERE for "In times of us first" flyer.
CLICK HERE for "Is your teen worried about an uncertain school year? flyer.
CLICK HERE for "Is your elementary/middle school child worried about an uncertain school year?" flyer.

Independence Local Schools’ behavior team eases remote learning transition
Posted May 14, 9:18 AM

By Chris M. Worrell, special to
Link to story

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Like schools throughout the state, the Independence Local School District was forced to adapt when Gov. Mike DeWine announced the closure of buildings for the remainder of the school year to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Independence’s established behavior team has helped make the transition to a remote setting less painful for students of all ages.

The team features professionals who are trained to assess student needs, shape behaviors, offer emotional support in difficult times, provide the tools necessary to overcome challenges and generally help students move forward in positive ways.

“It’s one of the most successful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with in my career,” says Sandy McCullough, director of pupil services.

The behavior team took shape in 2018 and initially served on an as-needed basis. But McCullough and others quickly realized that the team could benefit the school community in a more comprehensive way.

The behavior team now includes a board-certified behavior analyst, three registered behavior technicians and a prevention worker, though the somewhat daunting titles and various degrees mask a more straightforward objective -- helping kids succeed no matter the challenges and circumstances.

“The emphasis of this whole behavioral program and this prevention program is that we’re really looking at the whole child and not just a disability or what their weaknesses are,” comments McCullough. “Every student has something to offer.”

The behavior team, now deprived of the emotional connection inherent in face-to-face interactions, is working overtime to ensure student wellness in a crisis that has proven overwhelming to even well-adjusted adults.

“We want to ensure students are not getting lost in all this chaos right now,” explains McCullough.

Behavioral specialists are in contact with many pupils daily. McCullough meets with educators from each building weekly to address concerns about individual students and parents receive regular updates. Continued efforts to engage children -- including those who appear to be coping well -- have largely been successful, despite the remote setting.

“Our behavior team and our counselors are doing an amazing job of reaching out to the kids,” notes McCullough.

Nonetheless, McCullough admits, “Some students are having a really difficult time engaging because they need that structure.”

McCullough and her team keep such “at-risk” students on task by providing detailed daily schedules that allow for necessary breaks, but emphasize the importance of maintaining discipline and achieving goals.

The connection provided by the virtual world is not only helping students with previously identified emotional and behavioral issues, but many others who are battling anxiety and depression brought on by the pandemic, the loss of activities, changes to time-honored traditions, family stress, the lack of a routine and a sense of isolation.

“If they’re struggling with something internally, learning to read or learning algebra is not going to be the first thing on their mind,” remarks McCullough.

Online “mindfulness” videos provide outlets such as yoga, walking and general meditation. The exercises help free students from stress while also encouraging them to remain engaged and focused.

The behavior team also supplied parents with a lengthy list of online resources that will help them discuss the pandemic with children of all ages. In addition, the team continues to inform the approach of teachers, administrators and staff -- as they have long done -- with assessments of individuals, creative approaches to learning and general observations.

McCullough argues that social, emotional and behavioral health -- always a concern -- are now more important than ever.

“We’re trying to support students in every way, because we recognize there is more to school than just academics.”

Reposted from Parma Sun Post/

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