Heroes for Health: Susan Stroupe

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: Susan Stroupe, Director of Health Services at Racine Unified School District

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

Email: sue.stroupe@rusd.org

Phone: 262-631-7018

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 3 magnet elementary schools, 7 middle schools including 1 magnet middle school and 1 charter middle school, and 6 high schools including 1 magnet high school, and 1 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 Susan, a Hero for Health:

Improving the state of children’s mental healthcare in Racine will be a complex undertaking, but the Collaborative is committed to addressing this pressing challenge. We have already made progress simply by opening this topic up for conversation - establishing it as an issue in our community.

Members of the Collaborative come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and it is a unique gift to learn from each other’s experiences. How we individually view this challenge is informed by where we stand – it may look different to an educator as opposed to a nurse or a parent. Yet this broad perspective is exactly what strengthens our shared understanding of how best to assist the families in Racine.

Not only must we provide access to resources, but we must also create an environment in which it is socially acceptable to seek out such resources. We have made great strides in this area already. Parents are starting to recognize mental health challenges in their children and share concerns with educators, however, there is still a lot to be done.

Some of our goals are quantifiable. The Collaborative aims to lower the number of school suspensions and expulsions by providing additional resources to assist with student behavioral issues that, if left unaddressed, can lead to disruption in the classroom. We aim to increase graduation rates by providing a more robust support system that helps see our children through to success.

Other goals are harder to calculate, but are just as important. We want to nurture a community attitude of understanding about mental health. Success in this area will not present itself in a chart. It will emerge over time as families share stories of success throughout our community.

We have a long way to go, but we are already seeing attitude changes that a few years ago would have seemed impossible. I am confident that the Collaborative can help Racine continue along the path to open, thoughtful community awareness of this complicated issue.

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