In education it is important that we don’t just jump on every bandwagon that crosses our path, we have to be reflecting, refining, and refocusing our efforts to ensure there is a need in our district/school and if so, are we making an impact and being effective?  Are we intentionally spending time and resources in a way that is making a difference in our students’ lives?

Social Emotional Learning, Competencies, Sub-Competencies, Trauma-Responsive, Mental Health, Restorative Practices…it is nearly impossible to think about education today without hearing about one of these “buzzwords.”  But is this another bandwagon? Well, they certainly can be if the implementation is not research based and action informed planning does not take place. However, research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this mental health crisis; so how do we, in education, respond and support our students’ and their wellness and skills for success?

School leaders know they need to create more trauma-responsive environments, but often don’t always know how to do it.  The Illinois State Board of Education has funded a grant (SEL HUB) which represents a comprehensive approach to address mental health in schools.  This project operates in partnership with the State Board of Education, the Center for Childhood Resilience at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Regional Offices of Education across the State of Illinois.  You may also hear this grant referred to as the REACH Project, which stands for Resilience Education to Advance Community Healing.  There is strong research based in the REACH Initiative as it has been piloted in locations in the state and is now ready for expansion.

We, at the Kane ROE, are a part of the Area 1 SEL Hub and are here to assist you in your SEL implementation and action planning.  There are 3 main focus areas of the grant and project that we can help with: 

  1. The first is to assist schools in identifying their strengths and needs related to SEL, trauma, and school safety using data gathered from an evidence-based self assessment tool, as well as other school climate related data.  

To accomplish this goal we (Kane ROE staff) can work with your school(s) to complete the Trauma Responsive Schools – Implementation Assessment (TRS-IA).  The TRS-IA is an evidence-informed self-assessment tool used by school leadership teams that can quickly and efficiently identify strengths and areas for improvement related to trauma responsive programing.  The TRS-IA measures 8 key domains of a trauma responsive school: (1)

2. This leads to the next element which involves data-informed action planning that will help schools become more trauma responsive.

After the data has been collected via the TRS-IA we will work with your school team as we train and utilize the recommended data analysis and action planning process. Don’t worry, we won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater during this process, we will not only look at the results of the TRS-IA but we will also be analyzing other SEL self assessments, IL 5-Essentials data, Discipline Data, current school improvement plans and professional learning plans/goals!

Once we review all relevant data we will work with you and your team to develop goals based on the data with concrete action steps that align with the stated goals.  We will help to determine the resources, training, and budget (don’t worry, we can support your endeavor financially too) that will be needed to achieve your goals.  We will develop a timeline for monitoring the progress of the goals and will ensure they are aligned to your district/school strategic plan. 

3. The third element is ongoing professional learning and capacity building opportunities that will help leaders and educators address the mental health and well-being of students and staff. 

As mentioned above, we won’t just leave you high and dry with your action plan. We are committed to help you implement your plan through meaningful, aligned professional learning opportunities.

These opportunities can be broken down into 2 buckets:

  1.  Schools that participate in the TRS-IA process can access the following:
  • Professional learning aligned to your specific TRS-IA needs as identified in the data-informed action planning process
  • Invitation to SEL-related speaker events throughout the year
  • Option to participate in the new Communities of Practice (CoP) to collaborate and share best practices with peers and subject matter experts
  • Option to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLC) throughout the year to support the REACH process (TRS-IA) and to collaborate with leaders from other participating schools from the area
  • All of the services above are sponsored by the SEL Hub grant and are available to participating Kane County schools at no cost

2. ALL Kane County Schools can access the following professional learning opportunities:

  • Kane County Institute Day focused on SEL – SAVE THE DATE March 3, 2022 at the QCenter in St. Charles.  
  • Other remarkable speakers/workshops/academies – If your district has a specific presenter, workshop, or academy you would like to bring to your school/district let us know, we can sponsor your event!
  • All of the services above are sponsored by the SEL Hub grant and are available to participating Kane County schools at no cost

If you are interested in utilizing the services through the SEL Hub and/or would like more information please contact me, Katie Algrim – and I’d love to set up a time to meet with you to discuss how we can support you and your school’s efforts to become a trailblazer as you implement a meaningful and effective plan which focuses on student wellness and skills for success!

(1) “Trauma Responsive Schools – The SHAPE System.” Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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