Substance abuse director awarded for work with students

Clinton Middle School Principal Dan Boyd, left, presents the Gold Key Recognition award to Kristin Huisenga, executive director of Clinton Substance Abuse Council, in front of Clinton's school board Monday.Winona Whitaker/Clinton Herald

CLINTON — The Clinton School District awarded Kristin Huisenga its Gold Key Recognition for March during Monday's school board meeting.

Each month the district recognizes an individual or group for accomplishments or service to the district. Huisenga, executive director of Clinton Substance Abuse Council, has impacted district students in several ways, according to Clinton Middle School Principal Dan Boyd.

Huisenga oversees the Gateway Impact Coalition, which works toward solutions for the community's substance abuse issues, Boyd said.

"She brought [ACEs] training into Clinton Middle School last year," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed Adverse Childhood Experiences as a public health issue. ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential and early death, according to the CDC. School districts across the country are training educators to recognize ACEs and how to address their effects.

Huisenga also dissects data from the Iowa Youth Survey for the district, Boyd said. The yearly survey asks Iowa students in sixth, eighth and 11th grades to answer questions about their habits, behaviors and feelings.

A collaborative effort by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Education, the Office of Drug Control Policy, the Iowa Department of Human Service and the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, the survey tracks such things as student demographics, drug and alcohol use, bullying and mental health issues.

Huisenga helped coordinate the Peer in Education program at the middle school, Boyd said, and took students from DeWitt, Camanche and Clinton to the state capitol to speak with legislators.

Most recently, Clinton Middle School hosted Matt Wilhelm and his anti-bullying program, "and he came by recommendation of Kristin," Boyd said.

Wilhelm is a three-time X Games medalist, a two-time national campion, world bronze and silver medalist and Guinness World Record holder in BMX trick riding. He was a semi-finalist on America's Got Talent.

Wilhelm visits 300 schools a year performing bicycle stunts while encouraging children how to handle bullying.

Boyd presented Huisenga with a gold-key plaque in recognition of her contributions to the school district.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.