Patrick Andruss and Ashley Ross

Teachers at Prairie View Elementary, Eden Prairie

Patrick Andruss and Ashley Ross
Photo by Becca Sabot

“Kids are coming to school with a lot more baggage,” says Ashley Ross, special education teacher at Prairie View Elementary. Patrick Andrus, fourth-grade teacher at Prairie View, agrees. “It’s very different than when I started 23 years ago.” Yet, as a state, Minnesota ranks 48th in number of guidance counselors.

Across the Twin Cities, therapists from Washburn Center for Children are embedded in 22 schools, providing therapy and assisting teachers and staff. At Prairie View, for instance, a Washburn Center therapist provides therapy sessions to students and parents, checks in with teachers about students, intervenes in crisis, and provides context from outside the classroom.

Says Ross, “The therapist connects school and home when situations are difficult. She knows when students are feeling anxious or proud. When I don’t know what to do, she comes with another lens, another perspective, and brings what happens in our classroom into sessions.”

This therapist-teacher-family trifecta provides a uniquely safe and convenient space for children with emotional and behavioral issues to grow and learn.

And the teachers grow and learn from it too. “Through my experience with Washburn, I now look at the specific students differently, and I look at all students differently,” Andrus says. “There is this huge emotional piece happening with kids. I can’t always teach kids academics if they are struggling with emotional stuff.

“With what I’ve learned from Washburn therapists, I’ve become more patient and more accepting of differences. I am a better teacher.”

Saiku Kanneh

Saiku Kanneh

After his school bus nearly plummeted into the banks of the Mississippi during the 35W bus collapsed, Saiku Kanneh worked to put the past behind him.

Principal Jeb Myers and Students, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

Principal Jeb Myers and Students

Helping out at the Washburn Games promotes acceptance of kids, fun, and mental health as a priority.

the Noll Family

The Noll Family

Two self-aware kids raise money for their Twin Cities peers at Washburn.

Mary and Anna Kerr

Mary and Anna Kerr

A family finds ways to help their child—and their whole family unit—thrive together.

Kim Nelson and Ellen Goldberg Luger

Kim Nelson and Ellen Goldberg Luger

The history of the Washburn Center is closely tied to that of its biggest supporter—General Mills.

Matt Witham and Tina Shah

Matt Witham, LMFT and Tina Shah, PsyD LP

An institute trains therapists to deal with mental health needs across cultures and socioeconomic status.

Andrew Zimmern and Rishia Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern and Rishia Zimmern

Why do the Zimmerns speak for Washburn? Because their own family received incalculable benefit.

Comments