Kansans Can Copper Star

The Kansas State Department of Education announced that USD 480 has received the 2021 Copper Star Award for Social-Emotional Growth.

The Star Recognition Program is designed to support the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) process by providing a level of recognition that helps districts identify where they want to focus their improvement efforts.

“USD 480 is committed to social-emotional growth related to student well-being, workplace skills, and academic performance. This award is recognition of our progress toward meeting our social-emotional goal for all students,” said Dr. Todd Carter, Superintendent.

This is the second year KSDE has presented an award for Social-Emotional Growth.

For a district to receive recognition for this award they must complete three steps that include: the SEG Star Recognition Self-Assessment Rubric; prepare a written narrative and provide evidence that each element and sub criteria have been met; followed by the submission of all required materials and all supporting documentation.

“The District Social Emotional Team was confident that our district was doing a lot of really good work with Social Emotional Learning and should be recognized for that work,” said Lyn Day, an Instructional Coach at Meadowlark Elementary.

Day also served as the Head of the USD 480 Accreditation Social Emotional Character Development Team.

“As a District, we excel at trying to meet the needs of our students and their families. Our School Board and District Office supported the need for social workers and counselors in every building,” Day said. “They have also supported the work of each individual school to provide opportunities for social emotional learning to take place either through a curriculum or structures that are built into the day.”

Once the USD 480’s Social Emotional Team had gathered all the required documents from across the nine schools within the district and that criteria was met, the team set to naming the different levels of implementation supporting Social Emotional Learning at USD 480.

“I appreciate all of the hard work and all of the good things that our District SEL team gets to share. It takes a lot of time to develop new ideas and improve on ideas that have already been put into place,” Day said. Our district will be continuing to work hard to continue and improve on this very important work.”

“The biggest factor, I feel, is that our district as a whole, truly wants what is best for our students and community; therefore, we must provide that social emotional component,” said Lori Mansell, an Instructional Coach at Seymour Rogers Middle School.

Mansell, who also served on the USD 480 Accreditation Social Emotional Character Development Team, is a Liberal native and credits this award to the hard work of the staff.

“I am truly proud to be a product of this district, and now a member of its staff.  Many of us work miles beyond our expectations, because of our students and community. Receiving this award just proves how dedicated this district is to its students,” Mansell said.

The rubric included four elements that each district must address as well as subcategories within each element. Each subcategory was given a zero to four rating, with zero being “no evidence” of growth and a four being able to show evidence of mastery by the district in a certain area.

“This award adds credibility to how we are addressing SEL skills and will encourage us to continue growing in this area,” said Barb Brond, an Instructional Coach at Eisenhower Middle School.

EMS is a prime example of how SEL can be implemented into traditional curriculum in a variety of ways throughout a school day, while giving students the option for additional opportunities should a student feel they need it.

“Prior to redesign, Eisenhower was feeling a need for Social Emotional Learning due to some very serious situations on our campus. ALL students need to know they have a champion in their corner,” Brond said.

EMS primarily uses their homeroom time to focus on the SEL of their students, but also offer additional opportunities for SEL to students who would like to take advantage of a more directed session on a certain skill.

“Students can also choose to attend sessions led by our counselor and social worker that center around social emotional needs,” Brand said.

EMS uses the Second Step program to present skills geared towards four unique areas covering: Mindsets & Goals; Recognizing Bullying & Harassment; Thoughts, Emotions, and Decisions; and Managing Relationships & Social Conflict.

The Second Step program is used in addition to lessons created by KSDE focusing on Self Efficacy and Conflict Management. 

“All schools in USD 480 have a solid plan to address SEL skills,” Brand said. “Our teachers work hard and deserve recognition for their efforts.”

Social Emotional Learning is a relatively new term, but includes several concepts that have always been part of a student’s educational experience including building positive relationships, mindfulness, personal responsibility, decision making, and other areas that help students become positive members of society.

"This award reflects our staff's diligent effort to meet the social emotional needs of our students district wide during the past two years,” said Lana Evans, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education. “The SEL team did a wonderful job of compiling the data from across the district and representing what makes us such a strong district in Social-Emotional Growth. They were also able to show what makes each school unique in its own approach to Social Emotional Learning.”

USD 480 will have the rubric from 2021 to see what areas they do well in as well as areas they can work to improve for the 2022 Star Recognition Program.

“Receiving this award does confirm that we are headed in the right direction for Social Emotional Learning,” Day said. “I am very proud that our District received this award.”

For more information on this award click the link.