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High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop

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By Jon Craig for the Cornell Chronicle

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant. Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant.
Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Atop a roof overlooking Manhattan’s skyline at sundown Oct. 25, more than 300 public officials and proud parents of Food and Finance High School students toured a first-of-its-kind aquaponics greenhouse.

Philson A.A. Warner, founding director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension – New York City (CUCE-NYC) Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, offered lively, personal tours of the newly opened greenhouse. The structure is used to grow lettuce and fish through a natural process that conserves energy and the environment.

“The youngsters learn to do more with the sciences,” Warner said of his teenage students, whom he called “Cornell colleagues.”

Eight computers monitor “the weather situation above us,” to help control indoor temperatures, moisture and ideal humidity for growing vegetables, Warner said.

“This is what we call a green, green, green greenhouse,” he said, noting it produces “clean, safe, fresh foods. ... Nothing goes to waste.”

Even its solar panels are producing surplus energy that is fed into the grid.

Heads of lettuce that can take up to 10 weeks to grow outdoors are cultivated in just three weeks at the school on West 50th Street. About 8,000 pounds of tasty fish spawned monthly are another benefit of the scientific project.

As part of the greenhouse’s grand opening ceremony, dozens of high school students greeted guests and served crab cakes, vegan meatballs, fancy desserts and other hors d’oeuvres that they cooked in the school’s kitchens.

Jennifer Tiffany, Ph.D. ’04, executive director of CUCE-NYC, heaped praise on everyone who helped produce the hands-on learning environment and thanked the “brilliant students” who served as caterers and provided warm hospitality for the event.

“What an amazing, amazing community of young people,” Tiffany said during the ceremony.

Warner designed the 1,664-square-foot greenhouse, which is now part of the New York City Department of Education’s Park West Educational Campus. The project was financed through private donations, the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she was very proud to have been instrumental in approving and helping secure public and private funding for the project. “You are training people for the future,” she said.

“You could be in the Bronx and they are talking about the fish” produced at the Manhattan high school, Brewer gushed. “Without Cornell, this would not have been possible. This is a very exciting project.”

The Food Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, also has been a key partner in developing and sustaining the learning labs. Nan Shipley, chair of the board of the Food Education Fund, proudly pointed out that the Food and Finance High School has a 91 percent graduation rate, with most of its students advancing to college or full employment in related fields.

About 400 students are enrolled at Food and Finance High School. The school’s curriculum includes paid internships at restaurants and other food service businesses. The opening of the greenhouse marked the latest expansion of ongoing learning lab programs in a long-standing partnership with Cornell University.

High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop - Cornell Chronicle

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RCCP awarded $2.9 million to evaluate Syracuse schools intervention

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The BCTR’s Residential Child Care Project received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institute of Justice to evaluate a program that helps teachers manage aggressive and challenging behavior among students in the Syracuse City School District.

BCTR researchers will be evaluating a program called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools, or TCI-S, which trains school staff how to use trauma-informed practices to anticipate and de-escalate disruptive behavior, manage aggression, and help students learn social and emotional skills. To provide the organizational support that teachers need, TCI-S consultants will work with district and school leaders to expand and develop new policies and procedures that provide monitoring, supervisory, and clinical assistance to teachers

The project will begin in January and run for four years.

portrait of Debbie Sellers

Debbie Sellers

“This grant provides us with a wonderful opportunity to help struggling schools and build the evidence base for our longest-standing program – Therapeutic Crisis Intervention,” said Debbie Sellers, director of research and evaluation for the Residential Child Care Project.

Almost half of children in the Syracuse District live at or below the national poverty threshold. Living in poverty increases a child’s risk of being exposed to trauma and other adverse childhood experiences.  These exposures often impair the development of executive and social-cognitive functions that play a central role in learning and the regulation of emotions and social behavior, Sellers said.

“Teachers need skills and strategies that help them interact with students in ways that promote self-regulation of emotions and behavior,” she explained. “The TCI-S program trains teachers on how to prevent and de-escalate crises and teach students constructive ways to deal with stressful situations.”

For this project, BCTR researchers will conduct a randomized-controlled trial in 19 elementary and kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools to determine whether TCI-S leads to fewer disciplinary infractions in schools.  They will also conduct a longitudinal qualitative interview study of school staff about how they practice TCI-S and their perceptions of school safety and climate.

TCI-S is part of the BCTR’s Residential Child Care Project, which translates current research into programs that are designed to improve the quality of care for children in group care settings, schools, juvenile justice programs, foster care, adoptive families, and community-based programs.

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Schools learning to address rising student self-injury

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"Schools around the country have begun offering new classes and mental-health programs to help stem a sharp rise in the number of adolescents found to be engaging in self injury, especially cutting," begins a recent Wall Street Journal article. The piece goes on to outline the use of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in schools across the country to offer kids other tools to deal with overwhelming emotions.

Whitlock-inpost

Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery, was a resource for the "Teen Cutting: Myths & Facts" sidebar on the article:

Myth: Cutting is a kind of suicide attempt.
Fact: Cutting usually isn’t intended to be life-ending. It is a coping mechanism used by young people who are stressed, overwhelmed or in emotional pain. It helps them manage their emotions and feel temporary relief.

Myth: Self-injury is something girls do, not boys.
Fact: Therapists and school officials often see more self-injuring girls than boys, but it may be that girls are more willing to ask for help. In many research samples of self-injuring people, there is a small, or no, difference in the proportion of males versus females. Girls are more likely to cut; boys are more likely to hit or burn.

Myth: Self-harm is a problem among teens but not younger children.
Fact: In a sample of 665 youth surveyed for a 2012 paper in Pediatrics, 7.6% of third graders, 4% of sixth graders, and 12.7% of ninth graders reported engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. Self-harming behaviors included cutting, hitting and scratching.

Myth: Self-injury is a problem among social misfits and struggling students.
Fact: People who self-harm include excellent students and those who struggle; youth who have a hard time fitting in, as well as leaders with a wide circle of friends; and those from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Myth: People who cut are looking for attention.
Fact: Most people who do it say cutting, while painful, makes them feel relief temporarily. Young people often do it secretly: In one study, nearly a quarter of adolescents who reported self-injuring said they were sure nobody knew or suspected. Some say the physical pain distracts them from emotional pain, or that it makes them feel more alive.

 

Schools face the teen cutting problem - Wall Street Journal

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BLCC/FLDC Seminar

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School-Based Prevention: Current Status and Future Challenges
January 21, 2011

Mark Greenberg
Prevention Research Center, Human Development, and Psychology, Pennsylvania State University

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