Reset program on road to success
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Aggressive behavior in young children has become an increasing problem in the past few years across the country. The behavior has been seen in Harrison County as well, and staff in the school district are taking action to make changes to the trend before it gets worse.
One unique program that has stemmed from the need to change habits of aggression is the Reset for Success program. This treatment program was designed to provide intense behavioral, social and emotional support to students in kindergarten to third grade in Harrison County schools who meet program eligibility.
The students in the program and those who qualify must be eligible for special education services. They also have to be deemed by a committee as a risk to self, others or property but likely to respond to a therapeutic approach. Once in the program, students receive social and emotional learning (SEL) and academic learning on a daily basis. They also receive group and individual counseling weekly, music therapy and progress monitoring through report cards.
Bruce Kulwicki, the director of the Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative and one of the creators of this program, explained that sometimes education has to be looked at from a holistic standpoint rather than just the core subjects everyone associates with schooling.
“We need to start thinking of schooling differently,” Kulwicki said. “We have to take the time to understand where these kids are coming from; many deal with a deep amount of trauma. We have to start serving that before we teach them math and reading. I think every district is eventually going to need to have its own standalone Reset program.”
Because the program focuses heavily on SEL, students receive a report card with not only their grades for the core subjects, but for their conduct as well. Tasks like sitting in their chair properly, accepting guidance from adults and walking correctly down the hallway are rewarded with grades, too. Target behavior of physical aggression — things like hitting, kicking, pushing or throwing things — is reported every half hour with a “yes” or “no” circled, signifying if the student was meeting the expected standards set for them. If an outburst occurs, the teacher and monitors in the room will document the intensity along with the duration of how long the student is non-compliant to the teacher. The goal is to make the durations shorter and shorter as time goes on.
In the 2018-19 school year, the South Harrison Community School Corp. had six students in the program and North Harrison Community School Corp. had one. Five students were transitioned back to their home schools at the end of the school year. For the current year, 2019-20, South Harrison has six students and North Harrison has one student in the program.
Case conferences are conducted every 60 days where placement is evaluated along with behavior and academic data for each child in the program. The decision is made by committee on transition back to the students’ home school. To be considered for a transition, students must meet individual goals decided upon by the committee.
The Reset for Success team recently presented its research and findings from the program at Indiana’s second Educating the Whole Child Summit in Indianapolis. Here, educators from throughout the state were able to hear how other school districts are creating conditions for learning and reallocating resources to address needs of the whole child within school frameworks. The attendees were also able to explore how to create better school-based mental health services.
Kulwicki said that their presentation received rave reviews, followed by many questions on how they implemented the program and future goals for it.
“It expanded into larger conversations later at the summit, and it was said it was addressing an issue that needed to be brought up and people really appreciated the work we were doing,” he said.
While the program is still working out kinks and issues, like having to move the child from their home school to attend the program, Kulwicki explained that the saving grace is the child will, hopefully, be able to return to their school more equipped to handle problems they may face.
“The barriers and challenges we face are transportation, parent and family issues, reintegration to school of origin and state assessments for third graders,” Kulwicki said. “We don’t have it all figured out, but it’s another tool in our tool belt. I do believe this is the best program for the county to combat these issues currently, and that is because of the work our team puts in. This program would never excel without the work put in by this group.”
The Reset for Success team consists of Rochelle Bates, the assistant director; Emily Kirkham, a behavioral specialist; Heather Stilwell, the classroom teacher; and Joshlyn Thatcher and Heather Best, paraprofessionals.