The county has experienced significant growth in the past 15 years, becoming a bedroom community to the Salt Lake Valley. This growth highlighted a need for elementary school counselors and greater social, emotional, and behavioral support for all students.
In 2013, the district applied for and received an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling federal grant, funding counselors and enabling the purchase of Second Step Program for implementation in seven of the district’s elementary schools.
APPROACH During the first year of implementation, the district experienced multiple crises—each school experienced trauma that spread throughout the community.
It was critical to provide education and training to ensure that students and staff were equipped to deal with the grief and loss. The district applied for and received a 5-year School Climate Transformation Grant, focusing on Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports (PBIS) in every school and teaching the Second Step Program in every K–8 classroom.
Recognizing that emotional well-being is closely tied to academics, Tooele administrators felt that social- emotional learning would be the key to increasing positive behavior and supporting mental wellness.
They looked for a widely used and evidence-based curriculum that would promote these improvements and provide the foundation for a safe, respectful learning environment. The Second Step curriculum has become a crucial piece of the district’s larger PBIS effort.
“We believe ‘Second Step’ contributes to our success in creating healthy and safe learning environments where students’ educational and behavioral needs are consistently supported—leading to improved educational outcomes and long-term success for our students as they enter higher education and the workforce.” —Kara Strain, Safe Schools Coordinator
“‘Second Step’ is a great tool for our teachers and staff to be able to teach resilience, hope, and compassion to our students. Throughout our district, we have a common language and a way to work with students who move from one school to another, and transition between grades. We are hoping that this helps us never have another year like we did 5 years ago.” —Marianne Oborn, Counseling Director
“The lessons in ‘Second Step’ teach our students those skills that will be used every day throughout their lives. As our students get jobs, become parents, progress positively in adulthood, they can instill these healthy behaviors and clear standards in all facets of their lives.” —Julie Spindler, Safe Schools Coordinator