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Open house for Mon School’s behavioral program set for Sept. 2

MORGANTOWN — Never mind the pandemic. Some students just need a little help getting acclimated to school.

Monongalia County’s youngest students and their families will get that help starting next week in the district.

An open house for the district’s GUIDES/PIECES program will be from 3-5 p.m. Sept. 2 at the district’s Westover annex.

Deputy Schools Superintendent Donna Talerico calls it an alphabet soup – with purpose.

“GUIDES,” stands for, “Groups United to Inspire, Develop and Education Students.”

It runs in tandem with, “Positive Intervention for Early Childhood Emotional Support” – or, “PIECES.”

Acronyms by any other name, Talerico said

The GUIDES and PIECES programs are geared to pre-kindergarten and the younger grades, Talerico said.

Call them mileposts and anchors for the kids who would chronically be in detention otherwise, said the administrator, who began her career as an elementary school teacher.

These are the students who act up, curse in class and refuse to do their work, she said.

Others are bullies or generally antisocial.

The programs don’t punish, she said. Rather, they punctuate.

“We’re focusing on their social health and well-being,” she said.

“It’s about shaping their behaviors when they’re young, so they can be successful in school and life.”

Which, more than ever, is the mission of Mon schools in an autumn once again shaded by the coronavirus.

The aforementioned programs were in place long before the pandemic, and their appearance this term is especially welcome, Talerico said.

Anything to positively steer behavior, she said. Anything to provide academic stability on shaky pandemic ground.

Enrollment in the programs is traditionally small, Talerico said, with anywhere from 6 to 8 students from across the district taking part in the specialized instruction.

Participants usually rotate back to their respective schools within weeks.

The pandemic has changed a few things in the offering, the deputy superintendent said.

“With everything, some of our younger ones just haven’t been in a school setting before,” Talerico. The county’s first day of school was Tuesday.

“Right now is just trying to take care of all those ‘normal’ things, if I can use that word,” she said. “Normal is good.”

She’ll take it, in whatever form, she said.

“Our kids are resilient and adaptable,” the deputy superintendent said.

And decidedly non-truant, she added.

Mon’s first-week enrollment is around 10,650, she said, although the total roll call won’t be official until October.

“Those are still good, strong numbers.”

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