BEST

The BEST project is a Department of Education and University of Vermont initiative designed to build the capacity of our schools and communities to meet the needs of children and youth with behavioral and emotional challenges. The project strengthens regional capacity across Vermont through institutes, workshops and in service opportunities. The regional workshops focus on effective strategies, interventions and curriculums that can be used with individual students, classrooms, school-wide or in the community. BEST features training in Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI), Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (CPI), Framework for Understanding Poverty, Act 264 and Olweus Bullying Prevention. In addition to the BEST team, trainers are available regionally throughout Vermont.

BEST Training Initiatives

The BEST Project has increased capacity for training and technical assistance to Vermont schools by conducting a series of "Trainer of Trainers" programs. The "Trainer of Trainers" series was developed so that schools are able to receive high quality, low cost and accessible training by their Vermont colleagues. This is most evident with LSCI and CPI trainings and technical assistance to Vermont schools, statewide.

BEST Summer Institute

Each summer BEST has a centrally located institute for school teams to develop action plans that address school-wide issues. Plans are developed to address school and classroom discipline, curriculum and instruction, school climate and environment, and social/emotional learning needs of students. A systemic approach to address school-wide change is emphasized by BEST; collaboration by school administrators, teachers, students, their families and the community is encouraged. The Institute offers workshops, mini-skill building courses and keynote presentations by both national and Vermont leaders, opportunities to network, and time for local and/or regional teams to develop a local Action Plan.

Intensive School-wide BEST Initiatives

Schools have an opportunity to receive more intensive school-wide assistance from BEST that involves a combination of: a team at the summer institute, in service training at the school for a majority of the staff, teachers enrolled in University of Vermont undergraduate/graduate classes, and on-going technical assistance. These schools administer a yearly evaluation measure to address changes in school climate and student behavior as well as the areas addressed specifically by school-wide training. Life Space Crisis Intervention and the Olweus Bullying Prevention program are offered using this type of systemic approach.

Grants

Each year BEST and Act 230 grants are available to fund many of the above training needs of schools across Vermont. Larger school grants are available competitively for a few school or district plans that address the Commissioner's yearly priority. For additional information, contact Richard Boltax, Richard.boltax@state.vt.us, or 802-828-5125.

Coursework & Graduate Program

BEST Summer Institute Graduate Course

Each year a 3-credit graduate course is created as part of the BEST Summer Institute at the Killington Grand Resort, in Killington, Vermont. This continuing education course prepares participants to explore an issue relevant to their school, design an action plan and then implement it when returning to their school. Most of the assignments and readings are due following attendance at the institute. This course opportunity is offered at a significantly reduced contract rate by the University of Vermont.

Olweus Bullying Prevention Graduate Course

Following participation on a school's bullying prevention committee and receiving BEST training in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a 3-credit graduate course is offered to support implementation of prevention of bullying activities in the classroom, school and/ or community. Assignments include:   reading a book, designing an action plan, implementing and summarizing the project. Finally a workbook is developed to showcase all the classroom and school activities that occur as part of participation.

Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) Graduate Course

If enrolled in LSCI certification training program, participants can register for 3 graduate/undergraduate credits at UVM or Augustana University. Participants are expected to attend all ten classes, write 3 papers, and complete a written/ role-play exam.

Coordination With Other Agencies

BEST works on other statewide efforts, conferences and workshops that are coordinated with other state level agencies. Recently BEST has been involved in Act 264 training, statewide.

Dissemination

BEST web site features its summer institute, graduate training courses, calendar of events, training initiatives, and other helpful information.

Technical Assistance

BEST offers technical support and assistance to individual schools by its BEST team members and co-coordinators.