How Jackson Public Schools offers support to students impacted by crime

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – We hear all the time about people losing their lives to gun violence in Jackson and families grieving at memorial services. But what about children who were impacted?

53 people have lost their lives to gun violence in Jackson so far in 2021. Behind every victim is a devastated relative or close friend. In many cases a child experiencing the worst loss possible. Jackson Public Schools explained to us how they help those students to cope and not lose focus on their education.

Still on pace to break last year’s record of homicides in Jackson, gun violence and other crimes have found their way into many families. Forever changing their attitudes on life.

“They have mentally challenged as well as their attitudes towards school,” Tara Stevens, a graduate of Forest Hill told us. “It was pretty hard to see them go through what they were going through. As well as me being a friend to them. I want nothing but the best for them.”

Educators will say their job doesn’t end when the bell rings. When trouble pops up for students on the streets or at home faculty for Jackson Public Schools takes notice.

“Most of the time it’s going to be the counselor the student will go to,” Executive Director of Climate and Wellness Amanda Thomas explained. “Oftentimes we have additional mentors that have been paired with students to do those regular check-ins. The social-emotional learning aspect that we have for our designated time in the morning helps us to recognize those students who have different emotions and feelings.”

These mentors could be any employee in the district, guiding students through extracurricular activities to help them learn their strengths. For Zachairus Winters of Forest Hill, he credits his football coaches.

“They keep me focused by watching them and see what I can do to impact the team and do better,” Winters, a student of Forest Hill, said. “They give me side talks and keep me on track.”

“Whether that’s with sports, whether that’s with the cheer tries and most recently the APAC Performance Arts Center,” Thomas added. “Even making sure our families are informed about the different resources we have with our external partners.”

Those outside organizations working alongside the district can be key for students who end up in trouble with the law. Getting them back on track rather than back into more trouble on the streets.

“We have mental health therapists and when I talk about our external partners that are on-site for us within our district they have available,” Thomas said. “As well as more individualized counseling. To make certain those students are kept on the right path. We can really individualize the plan for those students.”

Through the power of education, JPS faulty and parents agree communities can give Jackson a better future for the next generation coming up. Motivated and taught how to make their city a better place.

All these programs and after-care services are also available for students and parents to become a part of over the Summer. To learn more you’re encouraged to call the administration at your child’s school.

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