John Carlson is a professor of school psychology in MSU’s College of Education, as well as a health service psychologist and state-licensed psychologist. Carlson’s research interests include examining the utility of medical and psychological interventions on school-aged children’s behavior in educational and other learning contexts. Courtesy photo.
Michigan State University education experts partnered with the Michigan State Police Office of School Safety to develop a series of six asynchronous courses to improve school safety. The courses are designed for school resource officers and other school officials to use to promote school safety and address mental health.
John Carlson, professor of school psychology in the College of Education and in the college’s School Psychology doctoral program, worked with the Grants and Community Services division of MSP to design these courses. This project was funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Justice and Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Carlson and his team used literature from both their own and other sources to create the modules, which focus on mental health intervention and relationship-building.
“We know schools must work with their community partners to develop procedures to identify which kids may need more help and support,” Carlson said. “Mental health supports, inclusive of the unique needs of the population being served, must be made available to help keep our schools safe for all.”
The modules are free to professionals and designed to be completed sequentially. The module subjects include: promoting a safe and supportive school climate; teaming and collaborative data-based problem solving; early identification of mental health challenges; mental health interventions and care coordination; working with diverse populations; and self-care and wellness.
Carlson and his team worked with Beth Beattie, a department analyst with MSP, to develop the modules.
“The modules begin with building relationships and follow with school structures and what SROs can expect on the job,” Beattie said. “The modules educate SROs on how to talk to kids not as criminals, but as a partner in their development.”
After developing the curriculum, Carlson and his team selected Michigan Virtual to turn the project into a widely accessible learning series. Michigan Virtual is a nonprofit corporation that provides online education courses for students and professional development for educators.
While many states require student resource officers to undergo such training, Michigan does not.
Carlson, who has conducted extensive research in school violence, said school districts must take ownership of the issue and identify key stakeholders to work on eliminating school violence.
“Those school safety teams must consider and then utilize the wide array of effective violence prevention approaches known to keep kids safe,” Carlson said.