CDCI's Vermont Early MTSS Team

Amy Wheeler-Sutton

Amy Wheeler-Sutton, M.Ed
BEST Project Co-Director

Cassandra Townshend

Cassandra Townshend, Ed.D
BEST Project Co-Director


Vermont Early MTSS and the Pyramid Model

Vermont Early MTSS is a framework that includes five critical components to ensure scale up and sustainability of research and evidence-based pracitces.

Early MTSS promotes the implementation of the Pyramid Model framework of evidence-based practices for universal promotion, prevention, and intervention. These support children's social and emotional development, well-being, competence, and confidence. Early MTSS is designed to ensure implementation and improvement sciences for sustainability of Pyramid Model practices.

About the Pyramid Model

Pyramid Model is based on an effective workforce. 

An effective workforce is built on systems and policies which allow providers and administrators across the entire early childhood system to implement Pyramid Model practices.

Supports for children are then based on universal, targeted, and individualized supports which build children's belonging in the community selected for them by their families.

The Pyramid Model framework is implemented in childcare, family home childcare, community preschools, and public preschools across the country. Pyramid Model practices support children across environments and build the workforce in all program structures. Training and coaching provided by the Pyramid Model Consortium (PMC), the Vermont Agency of Education, and the Pyramid 802+ consultants is tailored to meet the unique needs of programs across Vermont.

Families and caregivers drive program mission, policies, and processes. Staff within programs (regardless of size) receive on-going coaching based on their competence and confidence to provide responsive, affirming, and evidence-based supports for all children and families.



The History of the Pyramid Model

The Pyramid Model was developed from multiple national centers funded in the early 2000s. Over the decades, the Pyramid Model development has been funded by both the US Department of Education and the US Department of Human Services effective implementation across the entire early childhood sector. 

Concerns about exclusionary discipline have been magnified since the passage of Act 35 and 283, continuous monitoring by the Agency of Education, and the increase in mental, emotional, and behavioral health issues over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

--Building Bright Futures, 2023

How the Pyramid Model supports the entire early childhood system in Vermont

Implementation of Pyramid Model practices across the system reduces the use of exclusionary discipline strategies (suspension and expulsion) allowing children and families to access quality early childhood experiences and receive the supports they need to grow and develop.

A focus on culturally responsive practices transforms how providers perceive and respond to children's behavior. Providers engage in self-reflection, which help them to examine how their perceptions of children's behavior align with the cultural norms of BIPOC children and chidlren who are dual language learners, and reduce implicit bias.

Combined with the implementation of universal, targeted, and individualized supports for children within the Pyramid Model, Vermont Early MTSS can reduce exclusionary practices for chidlren across the early childhood system.



Vermont Early MTSS @ CDCI receives funding through the State of Vermont Agency of Education. It is part of work performed by the Building Effective Supports for Teaching (BEST) Team. The BEST Project increases and strengthens capacity across Vermont, so that schools and their communities are better able to anticipate and respond do the needs of students who are at risk of or experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Vermont Early MTSS @ CDCI is also supported by the UVM Center on Disability & Community Inclusion (CDCI).