Spotlight on SEL and Mental Health
Enhancing Systems of Student Support
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has made available grant funds designed to build the capacity of Massachusetts school districts, charter schools, and educational collaboratives to adapt, expand, or strengthen multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and to build strong partnerships with community-based mental health agencies and/or providers. DESE is working with multiple vendors—Education Development Center (EDC), Thriving Minds, and Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs (Walker)—to offer training and coaching to grantees on a range of topics related to mental health and social-emotional learning (SEL).
This website is designed to help grantees read about and sign up for professional learning communities (PLCs) that will be held throughout the school year. Most PLCs will be held in the fall, winter, or spring, but some year-long opportunities are also available on the fall PLCs page.
This initiative was launched at an event for grantees on October 4. View slides from event.
What are Professional Learning Communities?
DESE and its partners–EDC, Thriving Minds, and Walker–are offering a range of professional learning communities (PLCs) over the course of the 2022-23 school year. The term “PLCs” can have a range of meanings, but in this case, it describes communities of learners from across schools and districts who come together to learn about and implement specific topics in SEL and mental health. Participants will have opportunities to connect with coaches and with each other throughout each PLC.
PLCs are organized by topic, in alignment with five core elements of a comprehensive MTSS system: Infrastructure (Organizing people, resources, and time), Data (Collecting and using information to inform ongoing work), Tier I (Implementing universal/classroom-level interventions), Tiers II and III (Implementing targeted interventions), and Community (Bringing staff, families, and other community members into the conversation on mental health and SEL). Grantees can register for fall sessions now or view sessions for winter and spring.
Meet our team
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a Waltham-based, global nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to improve education, promote health, and expand economic opportunity. Since 1958, we have been a leader in building the capacity of educators across the country to support students’ academic and social and emotional growth. EDC partners with DESE to offer the Social, Emotional, and Behavior (SEB) Academy, an initiative aimed at supporting schools and districts across Massachusetts to build evidence-based, data-driven, and culturally responsive systems of supports using the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) approach. The academy offers two separate tracks: the SEL/Mental Health track and the PBIS track. Through the academy, schools and/or districts receive intensive coaching and technical assistance, and participate in professional development and peer-sharing events throughout their three-year participation in the academy. To learn more, visit the academy’s website.
Thriving Minds–a partnership between bryt, the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium, and the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy–was founded in early 2021 to offer professional learning opportunities for school and district staff on building comprehensive school mental health systems. Large and increasing numbers of young people are grappling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, with potentially long-lasting effects on their success in school and beyond. Schools must respond to this need by providing thoughtful and effective mental health supports. Recognizing that the best, most sustainable way to address mental health is to build schoolwide structures, Thriving Minds aims to help practitioners move toward a comprehensive model for addressing student mental health. Through a series of learning opportunities, educators will receive guidance and support on building systems that address the holistic needs of their students. To learn more, visit the Thriving Minds website.
Founded in 1961, Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs (Walker) is a leading nonprofit organization providing comprehensive programming in the fields of child welfare, children’s behavioral health, and special education. Walker provides high-quality, evidence-informed supports and services in each of these areas to children, families, and schools throughout Massachusetts. Through Walker Solutions, Walker provides consultation, coaching, and professional development to a wide range of education (K-12 and higher education), youth development, healthcare, and social service organizations in the areas of behavioral health, mental health, social-emotional learning, trauma-informed practice, family and community engagement, and special education. To learn more, visit the Walker website.