To many members of the Littleton community, the name Dr. Anna Mueller isn’t familiar. However, Mueller’s presence in the community is beyond important. For the next two years, Dr. Mueller will be studying the Littleton community and its social interactions, primarily focusing on persons of school age.
“I was interested in partnering with districts that shared my interest in doing a better job of understanding some of the challenges kids are facing today,” says Dr. Mueller.
After witnessing Mueller’s presentation on her study of Poplar Grove in October of 2018, Littleton Public School District approached her, asking her to study this community as it has suffered many similar traumas to her previous research.
Poplar Grove is a pseudonym for an American community that remains, much like all the names mentioned in her study, anonymous. Poplar Grove is home to one public high school and is a homogenous community. Like LPS, it had suffered several student deaths. By studying this community, Mueller will be able to view events that aren’t happening in just this community, but rather nationally.
“The findings that Dr. Mueller found really hit close to home. This is a great opportunity for us; we have a lot set in place for suicide prevention: prevention, intervention and postvention. However, we also want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can because it’s more than just maintaining school performance. Part of that endeavor includes bringing in an expert,” says Jon Widimeir, Social-Emotional and Behavioral Services for the Littleton district.
As Dr. Mueller continues to study Littleton, she will produce a semi-annual report, detailing to the district some possible recommendations and what she has viewed thus far. She will publish her findings for the community to view on her website, at https://annasmueller.com, so that the public may view her findings along with all of her other publications.
“It’s not just science for science’s sake, it’s spreading the knowledge to communities and making its way back to schools and parents. I’m very passionate about making sure science is translated into everyday life and to the people who need it,” says Dr. Mueller.
In her preliminary research, Mueller recounts her experience being inside the classroom.
“It was a very humbling experience because for me it just highlighted how much the world has changed since I graduated from high school,” says Mueller referring to being in a lockdown drill.
As her research continues, many of her findings will likely be implemented into our schools in an attempt to mediate the issue.
“If there are places where we are not meeting our kids’ needs, I’m open to hearing that because that’s what’s important to us,” says Principal Stacey Riendeau, referring to how Heritage will be affected by Mueller’s research.