Grantee Highlights

Grantee Highlights

As NCSSLE provides specialized direct assistance and training to a set of U.S. Department of Education funded grantees, we collect highlights to feature helpful examples and lessons learned to the field. Below we provide a range of grantee highlights you can browse through or search by state or topic.

Displaying 49 Grantee Highlight(s).
11/17/2022
In Newark, New Jersey, parent liaisons serve in each of the district’s schools to help families navigate questions, learn about available programs, and stay up to date on events such as parent-teacher conferences. The Newark Board of Education works closely with these parent liaisons and holds workforce development trainings to better prepare them for this work. Within the past year, the Board has worked to develop a Community Directory, a resource for students, parents, and community members. The Community Directory provides a list of organizations and programs in Newark that are open to…
11/07/2022
When it comes to effectively partnering with institutes of higher education (IHEs), Hennessey Lustica, PhD, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), and Karen Horn, MSW are seasoned professionals. Hennessey is the Community Schools Mental Health Director at Sodus Central School District and Mental Health Service Professional Grant Director, and Karen is an Educational Consultant for School Mental Health Professionals at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WDPI), as well as a School-Based Mental Health grant recipient. Hennessey’s experience as a school counseling intern as well…
11/07/2022
Mental Health Service Professional grant recipients Joseph Wharff and Jamey Petersen have maintained successful partnerships in rural communities. Joseph is the Associate Director of the Office of Student Services at the Virginia Department of Education and State Coordinator of the Virginia Partnership for School Mental Health, and Jamey is the Coordinated School Health Director for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. For Jamey, partnerships are essential in a rural state with many isolated communities. The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) collaborates with The University of…
11/07/2022
Mental Health Service Professional grant recipients Greg Hickey and Heather Ormiston, PhD, know how to partner strategically and effectively. Greg, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Specialist with Region 15 Education Service Center in Texas, works with school counselors in 45 districts, whereas Heather, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Health Service Provider in Psychology, and the Director of the School-Based Mental Health Research and Training Initiative at Indiana University Bloomington, works with just one district in Indiana and with school psychologists…
11/07/2022
Mental Health Service Professional grant recipients Michelle Warren, Ed.D., Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) at Osage County Interlocal Cooperative (OCIC) in Oklahoma and Christine Judson, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from Chicago Public Schools, share a common goal of recruiting and retaining school based mental health providers in their districts. In order to do this, both Michelle and Christine emphasize the importance of workforce development initiatives in providing quality training services, field experience, and certification opportunities to graduate…
09/07/2022
Dr. Teri Lawler, Project Director for the Trauma Recovery Demonstration Grant program at the Delaware State Department of Education, credits the success of Project THRIVE (Trauma Health Recovery InnoVation & Engagement) to the cross-sector partnerships she and her team have initiated and maintained. Project THRIVE provides free mental health services and trauma-informed support to eligible Delaware students grades pre-k through 12 attending Delaware public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and homeschools. These services assist students struggling with traumatic situations such…
07/29/2022
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction [NCDPI] leadership have recognized Rockingham County Schools [RCS] for its model K-12 mental health services program. NCDPI officials asked Stephanie Ellis, Executive Director of Behavioral Health, Crisis Intervention, and Student Safety and Mental Health Service Professional Project Director at RCS to make a site visit, in recognition of her team’s work in building a full continuum of support for students’ mental health and emotional wellbeing. The visiting team of officials intends to help advocate for more North Carolina school districts to…
07/29/2022
The Virginia Partnership for School Mental Health aims to increase the quantity and quality of school mental health services in high-need communities. To do this, they provide a suite of professional development experiences which include tele-mentoring groups using the Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) model. ECHO meetings occur virtually once per month and involve university faculty members and practicing school mental health professionals from partnering school districts. Each ECHO follows the same structure: introductions of all group members, a brief didactic…
05/16/2022
The Ohio Departments of Education, Mental Health and Addiction Services and Public Safety created a School Wellness Toolkit in response to heightened school wellness needs that educators, school administrators, community organizations, behavioral health providers and other stakeholders have identified.   The Departments collected information through several listening sessions and surveys to best understand what was happening in schools across the state. The Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory also identified that mental health needs in young people continue to…
05/16/2022
A new online program at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse [UW-L] aims to help address Wisconsin’s extreme shortage of school psychologists. Working with the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the U.S. Department of Education through a School Based Mental Health Professionals Grant, UW-L is adding an online program to its traditional program that will allow current teachers to become endorsed as school psychologists while continuing to teach. Rob Dixon, Director of the UW-L School Psychology Program, explained the new program’s three main goals. First, it addresses…
04/11/2022
Focusing on reintegration in the 2021-22 school year to ensure the success of students and staff upon return to full in-person instruction, the Pasadena United School District (PUSD), a Mental Health Service Professional grantee in California, developed an enhanced version of their curriculum that included visual arts, mental health, and academics. As part of this initiative, PUSD created virtual wellness centers for staff and students that includes a “PUSD Wellness Studio”, a Padlet for staff use only. As Dr. Julianne Reynoso, Assistant Superintendent, Student Wellness and Support Services…
03/21/2022
During individual supervision and interaction, staff of the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) school social work department recognized that their interns felt great anxiety before professional interviews due to lack of prior experience. It was then that the Clinical Grant Facilitator felt that a mock interview would be advantageous with assisting the candidate in learning how to respond to challenging questions, developing interview strategies, improving communication skills, and reducing stress before an actual job interview. Mock Interview Rubric Development In collaboration with…
02/25/2022
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is using the School-Based Mental Health Services grant program to increase recruitment and retention of school mental health providers by creating the Virginia Career and Learning Center (CLC) website. Participating LEAs with demonstrated need can access quality professional development modules (currently 90+ modules), guidance on licensing requirements, and information and resources on school-based mental health careers. The CLC also serves as a repository for available school mental health positions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The site…
02/25/2022
In Virginia, school-based mental health services are provided primarily by school mental health providers: school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers. Their capacity to offer mental health services depends greatly on the needs of the school division, their responsibilities within the LEA, and ratios of provider-to-student populations. The Code of Virginia § 22.1-253.13:2 delineates staffing ratios for school counselors based on student enrollment through Virginia’s Standards of Quality. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) continues to advocate for reduced…
01/10/2022
To support training interns through the work of the Mental Health Service Professional grant, the Pennsauken Public Schools (NJ) team developed what they call “Mastery Mondays,” a full-day training seminar program. On Mastery Mondays, interns are introduced to counseling techniques through immersive exposure in group counseling modalities. There are also presentations on topics such as behavior de-escalation, understanding the state’s special education code, and various learning styles. Activities to date have included roleplays in active listening and facilitating SEL lessons, and…
10/29/2021
A school social worker and social work intern for Del Norte County, California’s Mental Health Service Professional (MHSP) demonstration grant are implementing a peer-led suicide prevention program, Sources of Strength, among high-risk youth at Sunset High School in Crescent City. The local United Indian Health Services has partnered with the school to support this program with assistance from a SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention grant. Numerous students embrace their roles in the program with enthusiasm, and there is even potential to “extend the pipeline” for new school mental…
09/03/2021
Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) is using the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant initiative to provide new wraparound support services to students and families. Key activities include: providing direct emotional support to students in school by placing up to 15 mental health interns in all district schools; partnering with a local counseling agency to provide individual and family counseling to students and families; training and coaching district staff on trauma-informed care; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and other mental health topics; and utilizing…
07/26/2021
The Osage County Interlocal Cooperative, Oklahoma [OCIC], as part of its Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant initiative, Project PREPARE is recruiting, training, and coaching school psychology, counseling, and social worker interns in the provision of high quality virtual and hybrid mental health services and caseload management. OCIC’s school mental health professionals have developed virtual “one-stop” school counseling centers that allow students, families and educators to learn more about their counselor and available services; refer to and request individual, group,…
06/18/2021
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), as part of its Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant initiative, Collaborative Internship for All (CIA), is recruiting, training and coaching school counseling interns en route to placing them in high-needs school communities. In its efforts to promote CIA internally and externally, and recruit and retain graduate students, the grant team discovered that there was untapped talent among its interns.   The clinical grant coordinator began to have interns present on a topic of interest or need and identify their interests and talents during…
06/18/2021
The School District of Philadelphia is using their Project Prevent grant to increase capacity to identify, assess, and serve students exposed to pervasive violence and help ensure that students are offered mental health services for trauma and/or anxiety. Through Project Prevent funding, they are implementing evidence-based violence prevention strategies at all three tiers within the PBIS Framework. To implement their Project Prevent violence prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood of students later committing violent acts, they are using an implementation science approach to inform…
06/18/2021
As an innovative adaptation to the sudden disconnection of students from their school community over the course of the past year, the student support team at Del Norte County, California schools, a Mental Health Services Professional grantee, arranged to convert its Yoga Calm, an evidence-based program, to a combination in-person/Zoom! platform. As a trauma-informed program, Yoga Calm was taught in classrooms prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the school district began to adjust to the pandemic’s restrictions, the need for tools to manage stress and anxiety was even greater than it had been,…
03/08/2021
The Public Schools of Robeson County, North Carolina [PSRC], as part of its Project SCORE (School Counseling Opportunities in Robeson Education) Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant, has invested creativity, collaboration, and energy to ensure strong connections for students’ families despite public health imperatives for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The district has initiated regular family support opportunities through scheduled on-line events, and maintains open communication, in part through an electronic newsletter. Project SCORE has developed and…
02/02/2021
The Charleston County School District (CCSD) in South Carolina, a Project Prevent grantee, recently adopted CASEL’s Reunite, Renew, and Thrive: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Roadmap for Reopening School. As part of Critical Practice 2 of the approach (design opportunities where adults can connect, heal, and build their capacity to support students), the district committed to providing a more universal approach to adult mental health and self-care. In support of the grant, when teacher leaders made a formal request for additional mental health supports, the district capitalized on…
12/22/2020
While preparing for Year 2 of Pennsauken Public School District’s Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant, grant co-director and school psychologist Alexandra Pensiero realized that having “an in-person presence” would be important to students in a virtual environment. Ms. Pensiero and her team created webpage on their website dedicated to Mental Health.  Within, they share general information, information about the grant, and Bitmoji classrooms for the district mental health providers and mental health interns to introduce themselves to students and to offer resources.…
10/16/2020
The Sodus Central School District’s Mental Health Demonstration (MHD) grant, as part of Wayne County Community Schools, is helping to expand the pipeline of mental health providers into rural school districts. Specifically, they have partnered with five local Colleges and Universities to provide internship experiences for graduate level social workers, school counselors, mental health counselors, and school psychologists. They currently have 24 internship students placed in 19 buildings across six districts in rural Wayne County, New York. The MHD Internship Program is built upon the…
07/10/2020
Through their Rural West Texas Mental Health Educational Learning Partnership (HELP) grant, Region 15 Education Service Center in San Angelo, TX has partnered with Angelo State University (member of the Texas Tech University system) to recruit provisionally licensed school counselors from the M.S. in Professional School Counseling program for placement in 43 participating school districts in newly created positions. This partnership allows for reimbursement of tuition costs for participating students, in addition to the provision of quality social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum to…
01/14/2019
Oakland Unified School District held an African American Female Excellence Black Girl Power Conference in the fall of 2018. The OUSD superintendent’s plan prioritizes continued support for African American female excellence programming, a program that complements their multi-tiered systems of support efforts and trauma programming. 
12/23/2018
Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a Project Prevent grant recipient, has used their funds to implement an online mental and behavioral health program called Ripple Effects for middle school students. The program provides interactive modules that teach students how to cope with and take action confronting mental and behavioral health issues, including bullying, sexual harassment, child abuse, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, and suicide. Ripple Effects is currently used by 70 of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s 140 schools, which have seen fewer violent, aggressive…
10/12/2018
Hornell City School District (NY) used Elementary and Secondary Education School Counseling funds to hire three additional mental health providers to support students in Kindergarten through grade 6 in three different schools. With the extra support, these schools have been able to develop Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) teams. These PBIS teams reorganized the systems and structures in place to better support students. Teams also implemented and fine-tuned preventative measures to make students feel safer and more secure in the school environment. The grant also provided…
09/10/2018
Charter School for Applied Technologies (NY) used Elementary and Secondary Education School Counseling funds to hire two school counselors. The counselors played an integral role in creating a school-wide positive behavioral intervention and supports (PBIS) framework. Through PBIS, students have learned to take ownership of their behavior and recognize and use strategies to support their personal challenges. During the 2016-17 school year, Charter School for Applied Technologies witnessed a notable decrease in incidents of harassment and bullying, even as enrollment has increased steadily.…
08/08/2018
Gadsden City Schools (AL), an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant recipient, used its grant funds to hire two counselors and two social workers. The counselors and social workers provided students with individual counseling, group counseling, and crisis intervention.  The social workers liaised between the school system and partnering agencies in the community to plan activities for students. During the grant period, Gadsden City Schools also used funding to establish a few district-wide initiatives, including drug awareness activities involving presentations by local substance…
06/25/2018
Corbin School District, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant recipient, used its grant funding to provide mental health counseling at all its schools, especially at the primary, elementary and middle school levels. Mental health services were provided through a series of projects, including Treehouse University—a trauma informed skill building curriculum for upper elementary and middle school students who have experienced a trauma in the recent past. Students are provided with two or more small group sessions weekly with a certified school counselor and a mental health support…
04/16/2018
Bourbon County Schools, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant recipient, provides its students with a series of mental health services and supports using grant funding. These services include individual and group sessions, addressing intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships with peers and adults, academics, managing stressful and inter-familial challenges, and bullying prevention. In the previous school year, 2016-17, the mental health professionals provided an average of 466 group sessions to elementary students.  That same school year, 43% of students in the elementary…
01/23/2018
El Rancho Unified School District (CA), an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling (ESSC) grant recipient, used their ESSC funds to hire eight school-based mental health counselors (i.e. school social workers), provide all school sites professional development on early warning signs of students with mental health concerns, and establish a district-wide referral process known as ACCESS. The ACCESS process pairs screened students with mental health counselors directly at the school site. Throughout the course of the grant mental health counselors provided evidenced-based individual and group…
12/19/2017
Oxnard School District, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant recipient, provides mental health services to students and families living within the most underserved areas of Ventura County, California through Acción Positiva. The program is coordinated by Chris Ridge, the District’s Director of Pupil Services and utilizes a partnership between Oxnard School District and New Dawn counseling services, a local mental health services provider. Acción Positiva provides on-site, direct mental health services to over 100 students requiring intensive therapeutic counseling at seven of…
11/10/2017
The Lansing School District’s Project Prevent grant (Project PEACE), under the Office of Culture, is providing a series of four professional development sessions on trauma-sensitive schools. The series will focus on developing a safe and supportive environment for students who have been exposed to traumatic/toxic stress. To prepare for the series, the district has developed a website to house resources, including the district’s PEACETalks as well as learning modules on trauma-sensitive schools from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The district has also released a Project PEACE…
06/28/2017
Murrieta Valley Unified School District, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant recipient, won the 2017 H.P. McDaniel Foundation Group Award for their development of R.A.I.N. Elementary Counseling. Counselors in this district developed a model comprehensive program and completed significant research resulting in a major impact for the counseling field in the state of California. R.A.I.N. stands for: Re-engaging Students, Advocating for students and parents Intervening with students, parents, teachers and administrators Nurturing all students through the delivery of academic,…
06/28/2017
Baltimore City Schools is utilizing its Promoting Student Resilience grant to establish a cohesive response to youth mental health needs, particularly in relation to trauma. Grant funds have been used to hire a trauma manager and trainers, and to provide a mandatory learning module on trauma-informed practices to all school teachers and staff. This article provides an overview of Baltimore City’s need for this work and its efforts to more effectively address the mental health needs of students. 
04/27/2017
Buncombe County Schools identified evidence-based strategies to improve social and emotional skills in students, and a reliable way to assess students skills, in an effort to close achievement gaps among their students. Their social and emotional curriculum included Second Step, Mindful Schools, and the Compassionate Schools framework. Schools used the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment to measure students' social-emotional competencies and the impact of social and emotional skills interventions. This article provides the criteria they used to select the assessment that best suited their…
04/13/2017
An Erlanger School District elementary school counseling team is featured in a case study, sponsored by the American School Counseling Association, to demonstrate their exemplary program promoting college and career readiness (CCR). The case study examines how this school's collaborative approach for implementing a CCR curriculum unit, Operation Occupation, for fifth grade students promotes student knowledge and skills related to CCR. These skills include awareness of occupations, financial responsibilities, and career goal setting.
02/17/2017
Series builds off of last year’s Trauma Trainings for Educators that included an introduction to understanding Compassion Fatigue. This series will utilize reflective practices, videos, exercises, and collegial support to help teachers manage the challenges of this work while holding in mind each educator’s unique gifts and wisdom. The first session was titled "Reconnecting with Your Teacher’s Wisdom / Honoring Your Battle Wounds" and allowed teachers to spend time with colleagues, reconnect with their reasons for becoming an educator, reflect upon their experiences in the classroom, and…
09/20/2016
Contains Oakland Unified School Districts (OUSD) Restorative Justice Toolkit which informs their districts discipline matrix. In their toolkit you can find their restorative justice resources and templates they use, from presentations to documents on how to build a restorative justice team. A notable success of OUSD's incorporation of restorative justice principles in their discipline matrix is they no longer give suspensions at any grade level for "defiance" or "disruption." Furthermore, students at OUSD are engaged in restorative justice practices through OUSD's "Restorative Justice Youth…
05/11/2016
Provides the history of restorative practices in Milwaukee Public Schools and examples (with videos), of successful implementation of restorative practices in their schools. Restorative practices is part of Milwaukee's strategy for creating a healthy and connected school community.
05/11/2016
Provides Hillsborough County Public School’s Multi-tiered System of Supports - Response to Intervention (MTSS-RtI) Department- with a framework and process to ensure students have an opportunity to receive multi-tiered instruction/interventions within the general education environment with fidelity. The district’s framework incorporates a problem solving process for ensuring quality instruction and school-wide behavior supports are delivered to ALL students. Hillsborough’s MTSS-RtI department supports schools with maintaining this framework with many resources, documents, and forms specific…
03/10/2016
Presents a video, created by the Elk Grove Unified School District, on the experience and successes of schools under Project GROW, an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant program. The program uses a multi-tiered approach to address behavioral issues and provide developmentally appropriate interventions to students so that they can develop the skills to succeed in the instructional environment.
12/01/2015
Northeast Washington ESD 101 is using their Project Prevent grant to provide tiered mental health supports through their school-based mental health services to students and their families. Counselors are trained in topics such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and complex trauma, to provide counseling and referral services for students, facilitate professional development for teachers such as mental health education, and coordinate school-wide programming that improve social skills and emotional intelligence. Notably, the services extend support to students and families…
12/01/2015
Presents findings for Michigan's Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Contains grantee progress and highlights: 65% of schools reported improved school safety scores, 52% of schools reported a decrease in bullying, 30% of Safe and Supportive Schools received "Reward" status, and 70% of S3 2010 Priority schools moved off the Priority List. This final report also presents trends in statewide graduation rates over the course of the grant, previews key initiatives, and details lessons learned.
12/01/2015
Features Lancaster Central School District's use of Peer Mediation to help resolve student problems in a non-threatening and positive way. Peer mediators are high school students trained to facilitate conflict resolutions between students.
12/01/2015
Demonstrates through video Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative's adaptation of “Ripple Effects,” an online supported social and emotional learning program, for a rural setting. Kentucky Valley plans to implement it in over 70 schools by the end of their grant. Ripple Effects is an evidence based, trauma informed tool that can be used to support PBIS, Behavioral RTI, risk behavior prevention, and more.

American Institutes for Research

U.S. Department of Education

The contents of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Web site were assembled under contracts from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Contract Number  91990021A0020.

This Web site is operated and maintained by AIR. The contents of this Web site do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the U.S. Department of Education nor do they imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education.

©2022 American Institutes for Research — Disclaimer   |   Privacy Policy   |   Accessibility Statement