Heroes for Health: Jamie Syvrud

This spotlight series is designed to profile members of the Racine Collaborative for Children’s Mental Health. Over the coming months, the series will feature individual Collaborative members, each of whom is integral to the group’s efforts to forge stronger connections and establish new approaches to strengthen the social and emotional development of our children.

This series is an opportunity to highlight and recognize the diverse individuals, services and resources available to the Racine community.


Who: Jamie Syvrud, Executive Director of Instruction & Support at the Racine Unified School District (RUSD)

Website: http://www.racine.k12.wi.us

Email: jamie.syvrud@rusd.org

Phone: 262-631-7148

Twitter: @RacineUnified

About RUSD: With approximately 21,000 students, RUSD is the fourth largest school district in the state of Wisconsin. The district has 21 elementary schools including three magnet elementary schools; seven middle schools including one magnet middle school and one charter middle school; and six high schools including one magnet high school and one charter high school. Racine Unified features rigorous academics and strong programming in the fine arts, foreign language, school-to-career, physical education, technology, and other electives. The RUSD mission is to educate every student to succeed.

Words from Jamie, a Hero for Health:

Nationwide, and here in Racine, we face a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding children’s mental health. My hope is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the issue, so that we can meet the educational needs of children grappling with mental health issues.

My hope is that, as a community, we can come together to address the needs of students suffering from mental health issues. For example, rather than suspend a disruptive student – in essence push them away – we can work together to find a way to keep them in the classroom and continue their learning.

There are a number of barriers to overcome. For example, our commitment to patient confidentiality, while of paramount importance, can often create an unintended barrier to collaboration by inhibiting information sharing between teachers and mental health providers. Finding a way to balance our commitment to confidentiality alongside a commitment to information sharing will enable teachers to more fully understand a child’s mental health conditions and circumstances so that we can best meet their educational needs. It’s about everyone working together to create a supportive system for our children.

We have a lot of work to do, but I am heartened that our community is coming together to address this pressing issue. Our success will be measured by an increase in the number of healthy children in our community who are able to recognize their own needs and be able to respond to them in a manner that allows them to fully participate in the classroom, in the community and at home with their friends and families.

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