Exceptional collaboration is a characteristic of Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (HMS) Elementary located within the Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) territory.  The HMS team is innovative, creative, willing to step outside-of-the-box, and care for the students in their school. In particular, the HMS team has developed a very comprehensive plan for a student experiencing significant behavioral challenges. 

Brenda Langstraat-Janisch, school/family/community mental health liaison from Northwest AEA, says the team members are willing to have difficult discussions and participate in problem-solving meetings to address the needs of a student with special needs in the school setting. 

“Every team member is committed and supports each other in their work together. Even during difficult behavioral challenges, the team pulls together and identifies things that can be done differently and go out of their way to implement the plan for the student,” Langstraat-Janisch explained. “They have fun together and have fun with the student—most importantly, they see his strengths!”  

The support of the HMS team starts from the superintendent and works down to the principal, special education team, the Northwest AEA strategist, Family Educator Partnership coordinator, behavioral health team, para-educators, an outside therapist, and the guardian of the student. Everyone is working together using Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) to support the student and his family. 

The team looks for opportunities for the student to participate in activities with his peers that make him feel like he is a part of the school community. Prior to these activities, the team meets to discuss what accommodations need to be in place for him to be successful. They work very hard to set him up for success and believe in him. These times have been successful for him because of work the team has done for this to happen: They embrace these opportunities for the student! 

According to Langstraat-Janisch, the student is finding success. 

“His behavior outbursts are not as intense and frequent. He is staying in school and completing more work than he used to do,” Langstraat-Janisch said. “This child is now excited to try new things.”

HMS is a model team working together collaboratively to address behavioral challenges in their school. Through on-going collaboration and creative problem-solving, the HMS team is helping their students achieve.