CDCI’s Building Effective Support for Teaching Students (BEST) Project will be awarded funds from two new projects: One award is to develop professional learning opportunities that promote efforts to adopt and implement a whole-school approach to using restorative practices. and the second is to support three Vermont regions in the creation of an interconnected systems framework for mental health in schools implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

BEST will utilize the skills and time of Outreach Professional Amy Wheeler-Sutton and Research and Evaluation Coordinator Dr. Valerie Wood to work as part of the Whole School Restorative Approach Professional Learning Contract. The contract calls on Amy’s expertise in engaging school personnel in leadership teaming work, collaborating with schools to actualize whole‐school learning plans, and developing, and aligning whole‐school learning plans with other on-site social-emotional/behavioral work. Valerie will support the BEST team in leading the project evaluation through monitoring fidelity to process and documenting the impact of system change.  

The Vermont Project AWARE grant awarded to the Vermont Agency of Education and Department of Mental Health seeks to address the increased burden on schools as they struggle to provide safe, stable educational environments for youth with challenging emotional and behavioral needs and complex family dynamics, particularly due to the opioid epidemic facing the state. With this subaward, the BEST project will gather input, assess current strengths and weaknesses of current statewide and local effort including examining current infrastructure, funding, policy within local education agencies and identifying areas of need and potential for enhancements.

Both of these projects call on the BEST Project and CDCI’s expertise and connections throughout the state and within the University of Vermont. Congratulations to the BEST team!