Education leaders in Cochise County say the number of behavior incidents in the classroom have increased since students returned to in-person learning after the pandemic.

Behavioral needs have really increased over the last few years, Exceptional Student Services Director for Sierra Vista Unified School District, Heather Rodda said. “We wanted a way to be able to support the learning of our students with those behavioral needs, as well as our schools.

SVUSD has received a $5 million grant from the governor’s office. Part of the money will be used to create a behavior support program for students. Rodda said students will able to have individualized programs created to help them with behaviors they need help with.

The program would be, they may work with a teacher that specialized in that area. They may work with a behavior therapist,” she said. “So it will really be individualized to their needs.

The district is currently hiring the necessary professionals to help run the program. All of the costs for this year are covered by the grant funds. Rodda said she hopes the program is up and running in the second quarter of the school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Terri Romo said she wrote the program into the grant after receiving feedback from Rodda and teachers. She said teaching behaviors is becoming more common in education.

This is that focus on educating the whole child,” Romo said. “Its not just about learning the math and the reading. Because if theyre not ready to learn, theyre not able to learn. Just like making sure they have food.

A large part of the grant will provide training for teachers and professional development. Romo said teachers and staff will also be trained on ways to handle behavior outburst in the classroom.

Earlier this year the country created a Mental Health Consortium through the county superintendent’s office, to help provide resources to schools.

I think making people aware of what possibilities are and what they can do has really helped, Behavioral Health Care Manager for Cochise County, Charlotte Taylor said.

Taylor and her team provide assessments and counseling to schools participating in the consortium. She said, even though it’s only been a short amount of time, they are already making a difference in students’ lives.

When kids or students receive the services that they need they become more resilient because they feel more confident about what theyre doing, Taylor said.