Committed to serving all students

by Dr. Dean Wilson
Uintah School District

The Uintah School District joined the nation this past week in celebrating the work of school social workers. These individuals serve our students by providing both behavioral and responsive services. They also partner with multiple agencies to find services that keep our students safe both at school and within the community.

In many ways, school social workers are on the front lines of creating high-trust, low-fear relationships with our students to empower them to advocate on their own behalf and on the behalf of others.

We take pride in our school social workers and the invaluable work they do!

Our district is also proud of the strides we have made to provide more services for students with special needs. So far, the 2022-23 school year has brought the following changes to the related services offered to students with special needs in our district:

• a doubling of the number of licensed speech and language pathologists,

• a doubling of the number of licensed occupational therapists, and

• the creation of an applied behavior analysis (ABA) team, which includes a board-certified behavioral analyst as well as two registered behavior technicians.

This district’s ABA team just returned from training presented by the world-renowned Marcus Autism Center, which will help not only students, but also our staff engage safely with students in times of escalation.

All the positions I’ve mentioned are designed to help students gain better access to the general education curriculum, as well as provide a deeper level of services within the special education realm.

Additional improvements to the depth and breadth of student services within our district come in the form of school safety and security.

After an in-depth risk assessment from our local law enforcement agencies, the district is actively working to improve our technology and physical facilities as part of our continuous improvement cycle.

These improvements include, but are not limited to, enhancing the ability for administrators to monitor online activity while students are on district-owned devices or district-owned networks; adding tools to ensure proper check-out of students from schools; adding additional layers of physical security to our buildings; and deepening the partnerships between our schools and local law enforcement.

Finally, each school within the district has been working collaboratively with teacher leadership teams, community councils, and other stakeholders to develop positive behavioral interventions and supports. These interventions and supports giving our schools a systematic way to recognize and reinforce positive behavior, while also providing a systematic way to correct negative behavior.

These PBIS plans have been modified and improved over the course of several months and will be fully implemented in the 2023-24 school year.

Uintah School District is committed to providing a positive and engaging learning environment for all students. These additional services and supports will help ensure that all our students develop the essential skills needed for productive citizenship and lifelong learning. We look forward to continuing to find ways to better assist our community.

Dr. Dean Wilson is the Uintah School District’s director of Student Services and Special Education. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Wyoming and is the co-founder of You Got This!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to suicide prevention.