School meeting

Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Facilitator Dr. Maura Hart (standing) addressed almost two dozen counselors and staff at the Woodward High School library on Thursday afternoon. She will be helping them create a strategy for utilizing the Project AWARE grant in meeting the needs of students in the district. (Photo by Dawnita Fogleman)

Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Facilitator Dr. Maura Hart came to discuss the MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support) program with mental health intervention teams at Woodward High School on Thursday afternoon. 

SWIFT is a national technical assistance center that builds whole system for state, district, school, and community with the capacity to provide academic and behavioral support to improve outcomes for all students, according to swiftschools.org.

After assessing the group’s knowledge and understanding of the AWARE grant and it’s goals and options, Hart went into how she is going to be helping them throughout this year.

“The Oklahoma State Department asked us to come in and support schools and districts to implement this grant,” Hart said. “They hired the folks that I work with at the University of Kansas, even though I live in New Hampshire, because we are able to help organize systems and help schools to put systems in place, so that they can really make use of the initiatives to come through these huge grants, and make sure the initiatives stick, are sustainable and that they are done right.”

Hart said she will mostly be supporting the district administrators, but she is available to the counselors as well. The goal is to create a system of support so school staff has the protocol in place to handle situations effectively and efficiently as they arise. This includes communication with parents and the community as needed.

“You guys already know a ton of stuff. And you're already doing really good stuff, which is pretty impressive in that this grant is less than a year old. So that's pretty exciting,” Hart encouraged. “I'm going to talk to you a little bit about how I'm able to help you set up so that you can manage all that without going crazy.”

Hart broke down how she can help in three steps.

One is helping set up highly effective teams.

“The best thing that we can do in schools is to set up teams to constantly improve and be just a well oiled machine that's looking at what do our kids need,” Hart said. “This team's going to make sure that you've got things in place and figure out what our kids need, what's available, how can we put it in place so our teachers are supported to get this running.”

The second step is work to establish common understanding.

“This grant is a community grant. So it's based in the schools. But it involves the parents a lot and it also involves major community organizations. So the more all of these stakeholders know about this grant, the better.” Hart explained. ”We've got to tell people about it, so that more people can get involved and be supportive.”

The third point Hart shared was creating communication plans in order to support an effective process for initiative implementation for the students.

“The last thing is create and actually document, write down communication plans,” Hart said. “Most businesses have communication plans written down. It’s like a protocol. It’s a go-to.”

Hart encouraged that while schools will never be able to meet every need, this program will help give more control and navigation of the AWARE grant will become more seamless.

“These kids are in our heart. And we see them every day and want to respond to their needs,” Hart said.

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