Teacher creates app that tracks students' well-being

KING 5's Michelle Li reports.

AUBURN, Wash. - These days our students take tests for nearly everything - math, science, language arts, to name a few. But now a local teacher is trying to measure the emotional well-being of our students too.

For more than 15 years, Gina Greco has used clip art, pencil and paper to track how her 4th-grade students are doing. It could be as simple as asking them if they have a friend to talk to when there are problems. Or perhaps she asks them if they have friends at recess.

"I think we all have different networks of support, some have more support than others," says Greco. "The message that I want to get across is that it's ok to talk about your feelings."

If students are having a hard time outside the classroom, it has been shown they could suffer academically as well.

Last spring Greco connected with a development class at Green River College. The students spent a semester listening to her idea and helped create a web-based app called "Emotions Count" that prompts students to answer a few short questions about a number of situations. There's also an open form students can use to write about what's going on in their lives.

"That was the hope with the screener," says Greco. "Just making sure whatever's going in in the world, they have a voice. They're able to tell us what's going on and we can address that immediately just so they don't have to wonder, 'Is there anybody listening to my worries and frustrations?'"

Greco gives a lot of praise to the students at Green River for helping make her idea a reality. Not only do they get experience building a web-based app, they also get the chance to work with a client.

"I think it was a huge success," says Tina Ostrander, Green River College instructor of software development. "The students did a really great job and by the end of the academic term they had a product that was ready to go live."

The college students now have a portfolio piece that can be used in the real world to impact real people. Green River has already helped create other projects in the community like the Kent Food Bank. Ostrander says the school continues to look for other projects for its students.

Greco has already had support from her school in Auburn and will launch the app the first week in October. If all goes well, it could be a tool used in classes across the district. She is also working with Green River to come up with a similar tool for middle and high schoolers.

Other teachers across the area have also reached out to Greco for more information.

"I can't even believe what's happened over the last couple of months," says Greco. "They have brought something that I just never thought possible."

Copyright 2016 KING


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