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Dee Dee Jones, Hartselle City Schools Superintendent, Special to the Enquirer

Hartselle adopts online social-emotional learning program

By Wes Tomlinson

For the Enquirer

Hartselle City Schools this month became the first north Alabama school district to implement BASE Education, an online social-emotional learning curriculum designed to assist students with mental health issues.

Thirty schools in Alabama are using Edmentum Inc.’s BASE Education program, said Andrea Natale, communications manager of Edmentum.

Dana Gladden, mental health coordinator for Hartselle City Schools, said school counselors began training on the system in September before this month’s implementation of the curriculum for students.

The program is for grades one through 12 and is designed to be convenient for students because of the online availability of the services.

“Whether they’re at home or school, day or night, they can actually indicate when they need help, and someone will respond,” said Superintendent Dr. Dee Dee Jones.

Jones said Minnesota-based Edmentum presented the BASE curriculum to her in a meeting in the spring.

“We were already partners with Edmentum, which is a platform for a lot of our high school and junior high virtual classrooms,” she explained.

This past month, Hartselle City Schools purchased the Rhithm app, another mental health program, and began using it Sept. 7.

“The difference between Rhithm and BASE learning is Rhithm is an app where you check in in the morning to let teachers and staff know how you’re feeling and if you got plenty of sleep the night before,” Jones said.

“BASE is actually more in depth, offering strategies to help students who have mental health needs.”

Gladden said while Rhithm features interactive modules and videos, they are brief. BASE’s content, in contrast, features video lessons that offer solutions to whatever the student might be dealing with.

According to Edmentum, the BASE courses – covering more than 100 topics – are typically 30-90 minutes long. Each interactive course begins with helping the student define the problem, providing coping strategies and helping students plan ways to deal with the social-emotional issues that trouble them.

“It’s also age appropriate,” Gladden said. “Kids of all ages go through similar emotions but, depending on their age, handle those emotions in different ways. BASE accommodates students based on their age.”

BASE also features a portal parents can access so they can help their children.

BASE Education courses are offered in more than 50 languages.

“We know creating successful student outcomes goes far beyond academics,” said Todd Mahler, chief project officer for Edmentum. “BASE found students demonstrated improved academic performance after working on BASE, and staff reported significant benefit to 94 percent of students.”

He said data indicates students engaged in BASE coursework “see growth in engagement, social connectivity in school and academic self-confidence.”