Location: Minot, ND (Urban)
Minot Public Schools
Year Joined: 2019
NDFSCS Implementation Team:
Principal, School Counselor, Site Coordinator, Targeted Case Manager, Check & Connect Mentor
In 2019, three schools were selected to serve as North Dakota Full Service Community Schools (NDFSCS) Consortium demonstration sites: Jefferson Elementary (Fargo), Mary Stark Elementary (Mandan), and Washington Elementary (Minot). These schools would partner with the Consortium to demonstrate and sustain the adoption, implementation, and expansion of the full service community school model.
When Washington Elementary was approached by their partners at the Central Region Education Association (CREA) about the possibility of being an NDFSCS demonstration site school, Principal Kendo Carlson jumped at the opportunity.
“We have a staff that is hungry to find resources for our families to help them be successful. We were hungry for a partner, and CREA was hungry to help,” Carlson said. “It took that positive growth mindset to get this going and help sustain it as well.”
Washington Elementary began their NDFSCS journey by bringing on Danielle Rued, Executive Director of the Minot Public School Foundation, to serve as Site Coordinator. As Rued collaborated with Carlson and other school staff to identify Washington Elementary’s most pressing needs, one topic came up over and over again: student mental health.
“A typical school doesn’t have the resources to meet every student’s mental health needs,” Carlson said. “Every school in North Dakota has guidance counselors, so we try to meet those needs, and in some cases we are able to. But there are still top-tier kids who need extra support, and we don’t have the resources.”
To better serve students, Washington Elementary has partnered with Nexus-PATH to implement Targeted Case Management. Using a combination of social emotional screening tools, teacher or parent referrals, and attendance and behavioral records, Washington Elementary identifies top-tier students who could benefit from targeted case management.
These students are then connected with a case manager who is employed by Nexus-PATH and based full-time at Washington Elementary. This case manager meets regularly with students and families to identify their needs and help them access necessary services.
“It has built bridges with families that often have a resistance to school,” Carlson said. “Our case manager is able to engage those families onsite and offsite and get them connected to community providers. She even takes them to appointments if there is a barrier of transportation.”
Targeted Case Management has impacted several Washington students and their families, but one particular family stands out to Carlson. After the sudden passing of her husband, one mother was left to raise a kindergartener and a second-grade student on her own. The students struggled both academically and behaviorally in the wake of their loss, and the elder son had been given an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Being in a full classroom set off his behaviors, so he had to be isolated.
Through Targeted Case Management, Washington Elementary was able to get to the root of the student’s behavioral problems and identify the right solutions to support him.
“When we got the services and relationships built the right way, the mother said, ‘There’s my kid. There’s my boy,’” Carlson said. “That is the ultimate reward: seeing families be successful because of some of the extra things that we are able to do now.”
Another pipeline service that has proven successful for Washington Elementary is Check & Connect, which pairs students at risk of dropping out with a caring, trained Mentor.
With support from CREA, Washington was able to find the perfect Check & Connect Mentor: Chuck Kranz, a retired Minot Public Schools principal. Kranz regularly meets one-on-one with students and utilizes data to create personalized, timely interventions that help solve problems, build skills, and enhance competence.
“Some of these kids haven’t had the best role models in their lives. Now, we are giving them that opportunity,” Carlson said. “By building these partnerships, we are able to build bridges to help students be successful not just in school, but in life.”
Since joining the Consortium in 2019, Washington Elementary has set off a ripple effect throughout the entire community of Minot. The same grant funding that allowed Washington to join the Consortium also allowed the school to implement Panorama, a platform for educators to record and ultimately improve students’ outcomes in social-emotional learning, school climate, family engagement, MTSS & more. As a result of the platform’s impact at Washington, Panorama has since been adopted by the entire district.
“Everybody wants to help students succeed, but they don’t always know how,” Carlson said. “As we see these great things happening at Washington, it’s creating a city-wide momentum of finding partners that want to help our students. It’s gotten the ball rolling for our community.”