HANCOCK - Staff from all over the Copper Country Intermediate School District, BHK and Americorps gathered last Friday at the CCISD office in Hancock to learn new techniques for intervention.
"The ISD offered a variety of classes, and this was non-violent crisis intervention training," said Heather Mroz-Spoon, a school support specialist in her second year with the district. "The idea is to try to de-escalate potentially violent situations before they result in anyone getting hurt."
It was an eight-hour session, and Mroz-Spoon said it was a great opportunity for the staff that attended.
From left, Copper Country Intermediate School District employees Heather Mroz-Spoon, Kim Tunstall and Steve Elenich perform what’s called the transport maneuver on Tunstall. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Michael H. Babcock)
"Those that attended are now certified for one year in non-violent crisis intervention," she said. "We also taught personal safety techniques in case it does get violent."
Mroz-Spoon said situations where these methods will come into play are very few and far between.
"It shouldn't happen, but if for some reason you need to hold on to a student, we taught methods to ensure care, welfare, safety and security for the student and teacher," she said. "Only after you exhaust every method possible to de-escalate the situation should they be used."
Hands-on demonstrations allowed the educators to gain an understanding of all the techniques, but she stressed the most important portion of the training was the non-violent interventions taught.
"If not properly de-escalated, kids can become violent and you're seeing more and more of kids in the news ...," she said. "It's important that people are trained on how to avoid these situations. What we're doing is proactive as opposed to reactive."
The new techniques taught involve patience and understanding, but if done correctly they can make things much easier for the staff.
"We want these educators to handle crisis situations with the minimal amount of anxiety and maximum amount of security," she said.
This is nothing new to the ISD, but for Mroz-Spoon and fellow trainers Linda Reynolds and Peg Hertel, it's a first.
"Copper Country Mental Health has been providing the training to the area, but we had some needs here, so we got trained to become trainers," Mroz-Spoon said.
Sixteen educators took part in the session, which Mroz-Spoon said went very well.
"Everyone felt they learned things they could take back immediately."
Mroz-Spoon has a master's degree in special education behavioral disorders from the University of Iowa.