Communities of Practice Attendee Expresses Appreciation

Publication Date: Oct 06, 2020

Communities of Practice Attendee Expresses Appreciation

October 9, 2020 - Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) recently held the first session of a Communities of Practice (CoP) training series: Building Capacity of School Personnel to Promote Positive Mental Health in Native American Children and Youth. Participants of this training consist of interdisciplinary teams from various schools who work and learn together across five, two-hour virtual training sessions. This series was previously offered in the spring of 2020 and was well-received by attendees.


Turtle Mountain Elementary School in Belcourt, North Dakota shared their experience.

“In spring 2020, a multidisciplinary team comprised of people employed at Turtle Mountain Elementary School participated in the Mountain Plains MHTTC's CoP training series entitled Building Capacity of School Personnel to Promote Positive Mental Health in Native American Students. Thomas LeClair, OTD, reached out to this MHTTC and expressed appreciation for this training, noting the increased capacity of participants to train others on Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which has been critical during this global pandemic. In fact, they have used the training as a launching pad to promote SEL practices in their school, during the fall of 2020, where students are engaged in distance learning.

The CoP team that completed the training this spring conducted training for an all-staff event this fall, SEL & Distance Learning, in response to the decision by the schools to engage in distance learning for the first 6 weeks of the school year. Advancing SEL is supported by the North Dakota Restart Plan and the Bureau of Indian Education's Return to Learn that each emphasize the importance of SEL for responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19. During the training, the Turtle Mountain SEL team unveiled an online Daily Check In questionnaire for use by all students that is designed to identify students who may need additional supports and tiered intervention. Teachers now post the Daily Check In in their Google Classrooms and students complete the short questionnaire daily. Additionally, the school provided self-regulation kits for all students to promote coping and wellness skills in their homes. The kits include a stress ball, mood magnet, and guided breathing card. Teachers and staff are now better able to teach SEL strategies virtually using these items as a result of their participation in the training offered by Mountain Plains MHTTC. The training by participants in the CoP also provided content to assist staff with trauma-informed distance learning strategies developed to improve social and emotional learning and school safety. Staff response to the training this fall is positive, resulting in additional requests for a future workshop on SEL for school staff."

LeClair shares his enthusiasm for positive mental health in an instructional video, "Self Regulation Kit 101," for Turtle Mountain Elementary School students and families. 


All Mountain Plains MHTTC trainings are 100% free to attend. If you or your organization are interested in participating in a free CoP training series, contact LaVonne Fox at or Stefanie Winfield at