Student and Family Wellness

Our school district is committed to supporting students and families in healthy environments and with a culture that promotes and protects health and well-being. We are committed to providing opportunities for all students to reach their highest educational potential.

During the past year, we know many in our community have experienced an increase in social, emotional and financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time—and all of the time—the district's school social workers share these resources with you to help you and your family navigate challenges. We invite you to reach out to our team or school and program staff with any questions, concerns or a request for more support.

Two hands surrounding a group of blue paper figures in a sheltering gesture

What We Do

We are a team of dedicated helping professionals who meet state requirements to practice in a variety of roles within our district’s school settings. We work to address any possible barriers to learning that may exist in the classroom, community or at home. We strive to understand students' social and emotional perspectives so that we may help them achieve academic and social success. We want to be the link that connects school, home and the community and to provide beneficial and supportive services to students, families and staff.

Our team may:

  • Coordinate and facilitate student meetings to address mental wellness, social and emotional coping skills
  • Provide student referrals to in-school or community therapy programs
  • Find support for family basic needs
  • Address barriers to students’ regular attendance at school
  • Provide crisis intervention and support
  • Bridge the gap between home, school and the community

Our Partners

Sauk Rapids Rice ISD47 partners with Central Minnesota Mental Health Center and Lutheran Social Services to provide in school therapy services. Please contact your building social worker to make a referral. 


James Turner sits at his desk

Getting to Know JAMES TURNER

Originally published in the March 13 edition of the Sauk Rapids Herald

Turner Receives Humanitarian Award: Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School social worker honored at the St. Cloud community celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School Social Worker James Turner, community matters a lot and this quote from Dr. King—his favorite—inspires him each day to speak up and use his time and talents to make the place he calls home a little better for everyone.

Turner was awarded the 2021 Humanitarian Award at the virtual St. Cloud Community Celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 18. The celebration is an initiative of the Community Anti-Racism Education group (CARE) and originally began as a St. Cloud State University event but is now sponsored and supported by many organizations in the St. Cloud area.

Background and nomination

Turner was born in Gary, Ind., and his family moved to Milwaukee when he was in the sixth grade. After high school graduation, he attended Southwest State University in Marshall, Minn., and graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1996. He earned a master’s degree in social work from Southwest State University in 2009. Turner has worked for the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District since 2013. He and his wife, Brenda, have been married for 24 years and have two daughters. Jada is 20, and Mia is 18.

Dr. Robert C. Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Ethnic, Gender and Women’s Studies at St. Cloud State University, nominated Turner for this award because of his tireless and selfless work on behalf of those in our area.

 “He works with youth and their families to improve their status and wellbeing. He also supports the elderly in the community, showing reverence and respect for their contributions, wisdom and experiences. He works to bring the young and old together, so they may benefit mutually from each other. Not many are doing this kind of work.”

working to help others in school and the community

Through his social work position at Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School, those who know Turner are familiar with his positive attitude and friendly, approachable manner. He supports students and families in many ways as part of his work and serves as an advisor for the school’s Diggin’ Diversity multicultural leadership group. Members of the group work to create a school community that celebrates diversity and brings students and staff together to learn about one another and form supportive relationships within the middle school.

“His positive and enthusiastic nature has helped so many students gain confidence in themselves and learn to advocate for themselves and others and to contribute positively in school,” said Jessica Messerich, principal at Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School. “He opens our eyes to who we need to be for each other and how to do that in tangible ways. Mr. Turner is loved and respected by all. We value his presence and are fortunate he is a part of our Storm family.”

Turner is an involved member of Calvary Community Church and is a volunteer with the Great River Children’s Museum. He participates in the St. Cloud African American Male Forum, on the African American Leadership Council, on the Benton County Child Protection Consultation Team and with Opportunity Matters. He teaches an evening social work class at St. Cloud State University and has mentored and supervised 14 social work internship students during his employment within the Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools.

sharing the honor

Turner says he is honored to be a recipient of the humanitarian award but believes he shares this accolade with those who have helped him. “This is a testament to all of the incredible human beings who shared their wisdom, time and care for me over the years. This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”

When asked how he feels others might work to live out Dr. King’s mission as he tries to do, Turner explains: “Every person, regardless of age, class, race or gender, has something to contribute to the continuation of Dr. King’s dream. There are so many ways. When you hear an insensitive comment or joke that hurts other people, speak up. When you are curious about something, ask questions. Try some ethnic food or visit a museum about another culture. Just try to have unbiased respect and acceptance of others and don’t be so quick to judge. Everyone has a story, so step out of your comfort zone and get to know someone who does not look like you. Seek to learn.”

Sauk Rapids-Rice Schools

Meet Your Wellness Team

Headshot of Sheila Johnson-Kolb
Rice Elementary & District Community Outreach Liaison

Rice Elementary
District Office

School Social Worker Whitney Jarnot

Whitney Jarnot

Sauk Rapids-Rice
High School
James Turner leaning against middle school hallway display

James Turner

Sauk Rapids-Rice
Middle School
Tara Prom smiles by locker bank at MHES

Tara Prom

Mississippi Heights Elementary
Haley Miller stands in Pleasantview Elementary hallway

Haley Miller

Pleasantview Elementary
320-258-0506 Ext. 1247


Crisis Text Line  Text MN to 741741  Free support at your fingertips, 24/7  Minnesota Department of Human Services

Find Support

Our counselors and social worker are available to support students and families seeking mental health or addiction services.  
If you are in crisis, text MN to 741741 for 24/7 support.
Crisis Line: 800-635-8008
Benton County Community Services: 800-530-6254
Stearns County Community Services: 800-450-3663