Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $448,910)
The Southern Door County School District (SDCSD) is located 230 miles north of Chicago in Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, nestled between Lake Michigan and the bay of Green Bay. This remote, rural district covers 196 square miles and operates three schools (elementary, middle, and high) within one 340,000 square foot building located on a 129 acre site six miles north of Brussels (population 1,105) and seven miles south of Sturgeon Bay (population 8,958). District administrative offices are located on the same campus.
The majority of SDCSD’s 1,012 students are white, but the district does enroll 10% minority students. 41.7% of students in 2020-21 are economically disadvantaged and receive free or reduced lunch, up from 25.6% in 2009-10. SDCSD has an exemplary special education program (16% of students receive special education services) and the only alternative program for high school students in the county (2020-21 enrollment is 17 students). Both of these programs have seen an increase in participation by open-enrolled students who have unmet needs in their home districts. Due in part to these demographic changes and the resulting increase in numbers of high-need, at-risk youth, the district has dealt with rising mental health needs and increases in the number of violent incidents over the past several years.
The SDCSD, in conjunction with the Door County Sheriff’s Department thus proposes the “Building a Systemic PK-12 Mental Health Foundation” project. This project, to be led by the district’s SEL and Equity Coordinator and the Director of Pupil Services, includes a rigorous training program for all SDCSD teachers/staff and members of local law enforcement, including the district’s School Resource Officer and Mental Health Officer. The project’s structured, comprehensive professional development and training program will ensure not only that staff can effectively implement Character Strong SEL curricula but also guarantee that all SDCSD teachers and staff members can support resiliency on a day-to-day basis and be prepared to respond and intervene effectively during times of crisis. SDCSD teachers will participate in in-depth training on trauma-responsive programming, youth mental health, whole school safety, and compassion resilience and utilize a “train the trainer” approach to create a sustainable project that focuses on building internal capacity. Joining the Consortium on Trauma, Illness & Grief in Schools (a regional collaboration of comprehensive training and integrated crisis response network) will allow the SDCSD to overcome its challenges and implement a comprehensive, long-term, sustainable violence reduction and prevention strategy.