North prides itself on offering a robust array of social-emotional supports to our students on-site at no cost to them or their families. These supports include individual therapy with credentialed partner providers (Denver Health, Project PAVE, and Maria Droste Counseling Center), group interventions with school-based mental health team members, and referrals to more intensive community-based supports when appropriate. Please fill out the survey if you believe your student would benefit from more targeted support from our counseling and mental health teams.
You can also reach out to our Mental Health Team Lead, Amanda Wentz, with any additional questions or concerns. She can be reached during normal school hours at 720-423-2741 or Amanda_Wentz@dpsk12.org.
Adolescence is a time of immense changes for high school students. It can be a time of both disorientation and discovery. The transitional period can bring up issues of independence and self-identity; many adolescents and their peers face tough choices regarding schoolwork, sexuality, drugs, alcohol, and social life. Peer groups, romantic interests and external appearance tend to naturally increase in importance for some time during a teen’s journey toward adulthood.
Adolescence is a transitional period that requires special attention and protection. Physically, children go through a number of changes while they mature. We now know that the brain undergoes quite substantial developments in early adolescence, which affect emotional skills as well as physical and mental abilities. Adolescence is also when gender norms are either solidified, rejected or transformed. As adolescent girls and boys grow, they take on additional responsibilities, experiment with new ways of doing things and push for independence. It is a time in which values and skills are developed that have great impact on well-being.
Evidence shows that when adolescents are supported and encouraged by caring adults, along with policies and services attentive to their needs and capabilities, they have the potential to break long-standing cycles of poverty, discrimination and violence.
North High offers a spectrum of wrap-around Student Support services to assist our students during this period of change. In addition to the systems and staff members listed below, North students benefit from the many community partners working with our students on a daily basis.
The Deans’ Office and Restorative Practice Coordinators at North are an integral part of our school community. Our Student Support Team comes with 35+ years of combined experience in education. Our Student Support Team includes Deans: Marisa Lucio and Miguel Gonzalez and Restorative Practice Coordinators: Stephaun (Mack) Gaddis, Tay Anderson and Eric Martinez.
The Student Support Team’s philosophy is based on Restorative Practice. Restorative Practice is grounded in the guiding principle that everyone has a voice in any situation of wrong doing. Restorative Practice supports thriving relationships, student voice and accountability among students, their peers, and educators. While there are often consequences for wrong doing, reparation of harm is used in place of suspension as often as circumstances allow. North High School works to keep all students in the classroom accessing their education but at times suspension may be used. Deans, Restorative Justice Coordinators and North High’s larger Student Support Team recognize the value in finding the root cause for behaviors and will work with your family on identifying resources that may be of assistance if your child struggles with his or her behavior and/or attendance.
North High School is on the cutting edge of how we support our students with Restorative Practice and adopted Restorative Practices in 2006 as part of the DPS pilot initiative. North is a Restorative Practices School Visitation site and hosts visits throughout the year from educators from around the country. Visits are organized by the Restorative Justice Partnership. Read the March, 2018, article about visitations at North High. Read the June, 2019, NEA Today article about RP at North High.
Listen to an American Public Radio segment from August, 2016, highlighting North High School and our work with Restorative Practice. You can listen to the entire 52 minute segment or go directly to minute 26 if you want to hear specifics about North.
The students in North’s Restorative Approach 101 class have mastered the tools of circles and help to run circles in classroom settings. Restorative Approach 101 is a class of freshman thru seniors who learn the tools of restoration and seek to implement student voice in many of the tools we in the DRPC office utilize on a daily basis. The class meets daily with students learning how to lead circles, coordinate and lead restorative mediation between staff and students.
The Circle is a structured dialog process that nurtures connections and empathy, while honoring the uniqueness of each participant. The Circle can hold pain, joy, despair, hope, anger, love, fear, and paradox. In the Circle, each person has the opportunity to speak his/her truth but cannot assume the truth for anyone else. Circles that are held seek to repair harm that has been done, create communities and welcome all, or simply inform a community about a certain topic.
Learning Communities (LCs) are key to the close-knit, family culture at North. At North High School we believe it is crucial that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT feels connected to and supported by at least one adult in our community; additionally we want to make sure that every student has a small group of peers who they can get to know well and build supportive, positive relationships with throughout the year. Learning Community is this support for students; during LC we work to build character skills, study and organizational skills, and strengthen our community through empathy building activities and helping each student to value the differences of our student body.
Students meet with their small Learning Community class and teacher weekly for 40 minutes total. Learning Community teachers focus on establishing close relationships with their students and getting to know their students’ families as well. Students are able to forge friendships with students from different backgrounds and outside their usual group of friends.
North established a Gifted and Talented team in August, 2019. This team consists of diverse teachers and staff whop work in collaboration with North’s identified and prospective GT and Highly GT students. This team will ensure that every GT and HGT student has an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) in place and will collaborate to provide the best opportunities for all students including GT and HGT students.
We know that students thrive in environments where there are high expectations, high stability and structure, and high levels of consistency. As we have set up North’s behavioral intervention systems and structures, we have kept each of these values in mind striving to create a robust, sustainable intervention system that support us in maintaining a productive and positive school environment. Review the Behavioral Intervention Details document which outlines the details around each level of intervention. We want to ensure that our systems are clear to every student and family at North High School.
Social Workers provide students of North High School, the North Engagement Center, and the 18-21 Transitions Program with social and emotional support. This includes the facilitation of small groups and offering individual counseling. They can also provide referrals to community resources (food banks, clothing, mental health supports, homeless liaison, etc.). The School Social Workers assist with mental health crisis response and de-escalation in the building, and conducts behavioral and social-emotional evaluations as needed. This includes evaluations specific to special education students in order to ensure that they are receiving the in-school supports that best match their needs.
Additionally, School Social Workers within Denver Public Schools serve as the Attendance Officers for their buildings. At North, the School Social Workers collaborate with students and their families surrounding barriers to consistent attendance (transportation issues, classroom avoidance, etc.) and serve as a liaison to the courts when attendance concerns reach the legal threshold of truancy.
School Psychologists primary responsibility is the evaluation of students with exceptional needs, and the development of interventions for students to experience social/emotional and academic success. The School Psychologist works with students and staff to understand the effects of developmental trauma on learning and well-being through small groups, individual counseling, and consultation. He is also a School Suicide Prevention Specialist and works with the school team to assess students who may be experiencing a suicide crisis.
Additionally, through partnerships with Denver Public Schools, Denver Health, and Arapahoe House, North High has mental health therapists based at our school. View more information on all of the social workers, psychologists and therapists working with students at North.
For additional questions about mental health resources at North or to request assistance for your student, please contact: