My name is Isaac Kerry, and I am running for school board. There are several issues I am passionate about, but I have one concern that is the driving force behind my campaign: supporting student mental health.
The devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was the galvanizing force behind my decision to run. As a parent, and as a first responder serving on the Eden Prairie Fire Department, I was filled with a keen desire to do everything in my power to ensure something like that does not happen in our community.
While big-picture issues like gun control are decided far above the local level, behavioral problems and school violence are deeply tied to mental health. By making student mental health a priority, the district can make a real impact in students’ well-being and school safety.
We are in the midst of a crisis of adolescent mental health. A 2021 study found almost half of high schoolers reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless.” Twenty percent had “seriously considered committing suicide.” Over 20% of students report being bullied during the school year.
The young man who perpetrated the Uvalde shooting was by all accounts very friendly in his youth. However, he was persistently bullied and withdrew from his friends. Ultimately the mental health crisis he was undergoing led to an unspeakably tragic conclusion.
If elected, I will push for an annual student mental health survey so we can identify trends and target interventions. The board should set mental health goals for the district based on this survey, just as it does for academic metrics.
I will additionally push for our district to implement the free Know the Signs training program provided by the Sandy Hook Promise organization. This is a research-backed, comprehensive training program that teaches students and adults how to forge connections with their peers, spot the warning signs of violence, and take steps to prevent it.
By enhancing our district’s support of students’ mental health, we will create safer schools for all. I hope you will join me in advocating for this vision come the election in November.