Craig Hockenberry

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CRAIG HOCKENBERRY: Mental Health Services in Schools

CRAIG HOCKENBERRY: Mental Health Services in Schools

CRAIG HOCKENBERRY: Mental Health Services in Schools

By Craig D. Hockenberry

The early days of my career as a school leader in Cincinnati Public were filled with some extreme behaviors of students that pretty much took over my entire day and in many cases my evenings. When I was principal at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill from the time we turned the lights on until the time we turned them off, most of the time we were handling behaviors that were totally out of our control. We had situations that called for hours of physical restrain, attempted suicides, bizarre sexual behaviors, schizophrenia, and many others.

As you can imagine we spent countless hours away from instruction trying to solve these behaviors and protecting other kids. The amount of loss instructional times was overwhelming and it played a critical role in our early days of poor student performance, however after many sleepless nights we came up with a way to treat these mental health issues and became one of the first schools in the region to develop a mental health partnership that had a huge positive impact on our school.

I was introduced to several people at St. Al’s Orphanage who has a 190 plus year history of working with students in the Cincinnati area. The introduction quickly turned into a tour of Oyler and then almost immediately turned into them placing a mental health therapist inside our school. His name was Bob Ryan and within weeks he had a FULL case load. I remember him coming to me and saying, “Craig Hockenberry, we need another therapist and you are going to need additional office space”.

The weeks that followed turned into St. Al’s putting yet another full time therapist inside our school. The two of them worked together shared some office space, worked out a schedule, and were very flexible in supporting our mental health needs. (CRAIG HOCKENBERRY)

After six months are caseloads at Oyler continue to grow and grow and within two years of our partnership with St. Al’s we had added four full time therapist. Before I left to become superintendent of Manchester Local in Adams County we had added a psychiatrist and a doctor 3 days a week. We had many amazing partnerships at Oyler and St. Al’s was right up there as being one of the most impactful. They had a very efficient way of dealing with mental health issues that our students were experiencing by using therapy, medical, and adjusting placements.

CRAIG HOCKENBERRY


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