When he started Kindergarten at Needham Elementary School, Brayden appeared to have ADHD. He was a “ball of energy” and was having a hard time adjusting. But counselor Stephanie Deeter wasn’t so sure about the cause. She soon learned Brayden was homeless, sleep deprived, witnessed domestic violence and Mrs. Deeter wasn’t so sure about whether he was getting enough to eat.
“Those factors have an enormous effect on a child and can cause behaviors that mimic ADHD,” Mrs. Deeter said.
Mrs. Deeter had just received a grant from the Education Foundation to purchase a conflict management curriculum called Kelso’s Choice about a frog who teaches children how to make better decisions when they become frustrated or angry.
She collaborated with Youth Connections, a local nonprofit, to run a small group after school for children with moderate behavior issues. Since she had been working with Brayden and his mother to help stabilize their home life, Mrs. Deeter recommended that Brayden join the group.
“Brayden is a respectful, high ability child who wants to succeed. He just didn’t have the tools,” she said. “Like other children in the group, he needed to learn how to resolve conflict appropriately, rather than yelling and throwing things.”
Brayden, now in 3rd grade, has made great strides. Instead of pushing someone off a swing, he’ll say, “Hey, when you’re done, can I swing?” He keeps his desk neat and organized and even had to remind Mrs. Deeter that she was supposed to give him a permission slip.
“This shows he cares about school. Before, he lacked focus and didn’t appreciate the importance of school,” said Mrs. Deeter.
The Kelso’s Choice program, now renamed “Leaders for Life” has expanded from Needham Elementary. Youth Connections is running this program in several other FCS elementary schools and wants to expand it to Custer Baker Intermediate and Franklin Community Middle schools.