Sevier School District Emotional Safety/Culture Initiatives

2020-2021

7 - Mindsets: This is a secondary level program that teaches students life skills. 7-Mindsets provides a framework that distills extensive research into the nature of happiness and success, providing the language, lessons and community-wide operating system for social and emotional learning (SEL) to succeed.

10 Acts of Kindness: This is an elementary school program. Students receive superhero status and are recognized for showing 10 acts of kindness.

ADAPT: ADAPT (Advancing Decision Making and Problem Solving for Teens) is a small-group intervention for middle and high school students who are at risk for substance use, aggression, truancy, poor school performance, and depressive moods. The program's 12 sessions teach fundamental skills such as:

  • Effective Problem Solving and Communication Skills
  • Decision Making
  • Refusal Skills and Anger Management

Anti-Bullying Efforts: As part of our PBIS/school climate efforts, and in partnership with the USOE and the Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition, all schools have implemented bullying prevention strategies and/or programs. The specific methods chosen were based on office disciplinary, SHARP, and student report data at each school. In addition to Second Step and Prevention Dimensions, other examples of these include:

  •  Anti-Bullying Assemblies: These are targeted for the whole student body and designed to increase awareness and motivation to make a difference. Josh Drean, Gabe Adams and Braxton Nielson are examples of these assemblies.
     Bee-ing Builders: This is an elementary curriculum designed to teach students positive character traits and strategies to combat or prevent bullying.
  • Me2We: This is a middle level whole school peer curriculum program where students focus on developing a culture of kindness within the school. The program has lasting effects on the school as a whole promoting the ideas of kindness, acceptance, and tolerance of others. The positive and encouraging climate of the school is hugely due to the lessons, activities, and other reminders offered to students in regards to developing self-esteem, positive relationships with others, and working hard to find personal success and encouraging the success of others.
  •  Peer Programs: At the secondary level, established groups such as Hope Squads and Student Government have taken on the Anti-Bullying cause and include it in what they are doing throughout the year. These students promote positive relationships and watch for students at risk or aggressors and report them to school officials. They also spearhead activities to increase unity and acceptance. Training for these students has been provided through the Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition.
  • Second Step Bullying Prevention Curriculum K-5: Research-based bullying prevention taught as a supplement to the Second Step social-emotional learing program. The skills taught through this curriculum build on Second Step fundamentals with included training for all school staff and lessons for students.

Anxiety Awareness Community Focus Group: Community members, business owners, clergy representatives, city and county representatives, and the Sevier School District Crisis Response Team attend Anxiety Awareness Meetings to implement the Community Suicide Prevention Model and improve community involvement and awareness.

Best Practices in School Mental Wellness Grant: Salina Elementary School was selected along with only one other school in a region of several western states to receive intensive technical assistance and training through the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer. Administrators, Counselors and Teachers will receive hands-on best practices training on working with students with social-emotional issues.

Botvin LifeSkills Training: The Botvin LifeSkills Middle and High School program is a groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program based on more than 35 years of rigorous scientific research. Proven to be the most effective evidence-based program used in schools today. LifeSkills Training is comprehensive, dynamic, and developmentally designed to promote positive youth development. In addition to helping kids resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, the LifeSkills Training Middle School program also effectively supports the reduction of violence and other high-risk behaviors.

Check & Connect Mentor: Sevier School District has hired a Check & Connect Mentor to work directly with our Foster Care population of students to provide support and wrap around services to all Foster Care students.

Educator’s Handbook: State-of-the-art reporting and incident management system that provides schools with the information that they need to make informed decisions including: identify students in need of services, pinpoint where and when challenging behavior is most likely to occur, select and measure response to targeted intervention, and communicate effectively with parents and others.

Emergency Response Team: Sevier School District has a Crisis Response Team which include District administration, principals, school counselors, community leaders and members of the community.

HOPE Squads: These are students in all secondary schools that are trained in suicide awareness to assist and help peers who are suffering from depression or may be suicidal. It incorporates training modules that take an active approach in teaching/learning the warning signs of suicide, reporting potential suicidal behavior, and supporting students who have already received help. Hope Squads are the eyes and ears of the school’s student body that have been identified by their peers as someone that is a good listener. Teams are led by teachers and counselors who have also been trained. The goal is to refer the students to the counseling office or another adult who can assist them in getting the support they need.

Juvenile Justice Intervention Programs: The School-based Outreach Program provides evidence-based services to youths to improve attendance and academic performance, teach problem solving, decision making, goal setting and resiliency skills in the school and in the community, tutor participating youth, establish collaborative relationships with allied agencies, and mentor youth in homes, where skills are taught to the family. Juvenile Justice Service representatives work with secondary students one on one and in small groups weekly.

Mental Health Services: Through School Climate and Counseling Grants, our students can access mental health services for situations that are affecting their social/emotional wellbeing, school behavior and/or academics. A partnership in association with Central Utah Counseling provides cost-free opportunities for qualifying students to get the support needed during school time. This can be accessed through administrators and/or counselors. A partnership grant with the Children’s Justice Center is also available for those who may not qualify for the other programs. SCTG awarded money for Community Mental Health Services through September 2024.

Multiple Assemblies and Presentations: We are always looking at investing in assemblies and presentations to deliver proactive, positive information to help our students and parents deal with bullying, suicide, prevention, etc. to help our community prevent and cope with the tough issues that face our students, i.e; Dr. Christy Kane - Social Media, Greg Hudnal - Suicide, Shailee Syddall - Kindness, Braxten Nielson - Resiliency, etc.

Multiple Anxiety Awareness Coalitions and Committees: These anxiety awareness groups are being formed and are dedicated to working towards finding solutions for those who are struggling with anxiety and depression in our community. SVAAC - Sevier Valley Anxiety Awareness Coalition, BHN- Intermountain Sevier Valley Hospital Behavioral Health Network, CUCTC- Central Utah Communities that Care, etc. Are all working together to provide information and resources to those who are in desperate need of help.

National Bereavement Guidelines: In the event of a school crisis, Sevier School District Emergency Response Team uses the National School Crisis and Bereavement guidelines. These guidelines are designed to help school administrators, teachers, and crisis team members respond to the needs of students and staff after a suicide has impacted the school environment as well as when an individual student’s life may be impacted by a suicide within the family.

Nearpod: Interactive lessons application that includes social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons in different SEL domains for grades K-12.

NOVA: The N.O.V.A (Nurturing Opportunities, Values and Accountability) Principles program teaches powerful, comprehensive principles-based decision making that goes far beyond other prevention and education programs. The curriculum includes lessons that help youth and parents deal with drugs, accountability and healthy choices, anger management, internet safety, self-esteem, bullying and media.

Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS):
District-wide implementation by adhering to research-based principles and frameworks that include:

  •  establishing school-side positive behavior expectations
  • systematically rewarding expected behaviors
  • identifying students in need of additional supports
  • providing targeted interventions to students who are struggling behaviorally and/or academically
  • providing opportunities for parent and community involvement
  • collecting and analyzing data to drive school improvement decisions
    Tools that assist in this process are: Educator’s Handbook, School Information System (SIS), PBIS.org, PBIS World, etc.

Positive Professional Development for Teachers: Sevier School District is always looking for and implementing positive professional development opportunities for staff and faculty dealing with improving school culture, compassion fatigue, student success, positive effect size, etc. We feel if we can give our teachers and staff the right tools and training it will transfer to our students social/emotional development, academic success and improved coping skills. Mental health professionals are always scheduled to present at our annual professional learning conference.

PREPaRE Training: This is an emergency response training that includes a mental health component in which all of our counselors have been trained.

Prevention Dimensions: This is Utah’s Safe and Drug Free Schools Curriculum. All elementary (K-6) and select Junior High teachers in our district have been trained and teach this annually. This has been the foundation prevention curriculum in Sevier School District since 1983.

QPR Training: We have 2 district trainers that work throughout the community to train educators, staff, students, community groups, religious groups, etc. on the Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) method of suicide prevention. After 2 years of teaching QPR in Sevier County, we have trained many Gatekeepers, and people in Connect Postvention. We have several staff who have also been trained in postvention. In December of 2018 all teachers, administrators, and counselors attended a QPR and Suicide Prevention training.

Refocus Groups: We have a refocus room coordinator in most of the elementary schools. The program was implemented to monitor students in various activities for the purpose of providing a safe and positive learning environment. The refocus coordinator responds productively to conflict situations with students for the purpose of de-escalating student behavior and directing the situation toward a positive outcome.

RethinkEd: K-12 social-emotional learning (SEL) online teaching platform. SSD has purchased secondary (6-12) use of the platform to teach SEL in secondary schools. Elementary schools have access to additional materials to supplement Second Step SEL lessons. PD for teachers/staff.

SafeUT: Students concerned about the safety of themselves or others are reaching out for help. The SafeUT Crisis & Safety Tip Line App was brought online districtwide in April 2016. All students in grades 6-12 are trained about how and when to use the SafeUT services. Students in crisis can connect with counselors 24 hours a day by using the mobile app or calling 1-800-273-8255 to talk about relationship issues, drug problems, thoughts of suicide, etc. Safety tips submitted are screened by crisis workers for immediate intervention and then passed along to district/school officials for follow up. Tips can be reported anonymously and may include, but are not limited to: suicide, bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, hazing, threats, and substance abuse. We have received valuable tips allowing us to respond and intervene in a timely manner to prevent, properly investigate, act upon, restore, and maintain safety. High school counselors review this app frequently with students.

School-Based Mental Health Webinar: The Utah School Board of Education provides School-Based Mental Health webinars for counselors and other student support professionals each month.

School Climate Transformation Grant: Sevier School District was the only School District in the state of Utah and only one of 69 districts awarded the Federal School Climate Transformation Grant nationwide. This grant is a 5 (five) year competitive grant meant to assist school districts in helping positively change the culture of struggling districts to help students and staff become more social emotionally safe. Much of the grant funding will be used to implement social emotional programs and professional development geared toward improving school culture. As part of this grant Joli J. Nay was hired as our SCTG Coordinator.

School Counseling & Mental Health Systems of Support: Our school counselors have an “open-door policy” for responsive services. They know this takes precedence over other needs. Counselors have attended multiple trainings/conferences in the areas of suicide prevention, mental health, emergency services, intervention strategies, abuse and trauma, etc. Counselors have been trained in various suicide prevention programs/strategies, including QPR, as well as other trainings. Sevier School District has also actively increased counseling services throughout the district including in our elementary schools. In addition to this a couple of our elementary schools are using school funding to pilot efforts to include social/emotional intervention aides on staff.

School Resource Officers (SROs): SROs are sworn law enforcement officers who are specially selected and trained to promote safety within schools. SROs can fulfill a variety of roles including:

  • preventing and responding to school-based crime
  • fostering positive relationships among law enforcement, educators, and youth
  • helping to promote a positive school climate.

Second Step (grades K-5): This is a nationally renowned, evidence-based program designed to promote skills and attitudes that increase students’ social and school success. It provides a foundation for creating a safe, respectful learning environment. Second Step is implemented by classroom teachers in every elementary school in SSD. Counselors, mental health coordinators (MHCs) and refocus specialists use the lessons in small group settings to reinforce what is taught by the classroom teachers.

Sevier County Suicide Prevention Tips: The tip of the month is produced through the Central Utah Counseling Center. The information includes prevention events and tips from many agencies throughout Sevier County.

SHARP Survey: In March 2017, students in grades 6-12 participated in the SHARP Survey. This survey is administered every two years, gathering data that is used to continually to support and improve efforts to combat suicide, bullying, drug and tobacco use, etc. within our district and communities.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools: The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions. This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners. What a Unified Champion School “looks like” can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same.

SSD Mental Health Coordinators (MHCs): Sevier School District (SSD) has hired and implemented a School Based Mental Health Counseling program. At this time 6 (six) Mental Health Coordinators/Therapists have been hired district-wide to help students on a daily basis dealing with such student issues as resiliency, self-esteem, emotional safety, anxiety, etc. Our coordinators will work with whole classrooms, small groups and on occasion individual students. SSD School MHCs will help provide students and parents with additional resources outside of the school if necessary.

Summer Teacher Training Series: Administrators, teachers and staff participated in extensive training over the summer 2020 to become familiar with and equipped to teach and implement frameworks, programs, and curriculum directly tied to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Utah Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (UMTSS), and social-emotional learning (SEL). Training and professional development is planned and expected to continue throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

WhyTry: This is a nationally renowned, evidence-based program designed to promote skills and attitudes that increase students’ social and school success. The WhyTry Program is a resilience education curriculum that provides simple, hands-on solutions for dropout prevention, violence prevention, truancy reduction, and increased academic success.

You Got This! Suicide Prevention Program: This program helps educate students and teachers on saving lives to suicide loss, focusing on inputs not outputs. YGT’s mission is to build and empower healthy life choices. YGT works together with organizations like SafeUT using connection as the best prevention to let students know that it’s ok to not be ok.

Zones of Regulation: A curriculum designed to foster self- regulation and control available in every school in the district. The Zones framework provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, manage their sensory needs, and improve their ability to problem solve conflicts.