Grand Forks
Public Schools

“When I think of the SEL Network, it is about bringing people together, sharing resources, and collaborating with each other.”

Geoff GauklerMental Health Coordinator

Member Profile


Grand Forks Public Schools’ greatest strength is an understanding at every level, from teachers to parents to administrators, the vital role social-emotional learning plays in students’ lives in and out of the classroom. This shared understanding was the impetus for Grand Forks joining the ND SEL Network and has paved the way for initiatives prioritizing students’ mental health and overall wellbeing.

Problem Of Practice

How do we build our capacity to implement activities and programs that support SEL skill development for students and staff and assess to what degree they are being implemented with fidelity and achieving desired outcomes?

Growth Opportunities

Making social-emotional learning “user-friendly” for all members of the community by translating complex concepts and strategies through clear, more accessible messaging.

Classified Staff Size
Certified Staff Size
Number of Buildings
Team Lead

Geoff Gaukler, Mental Health Coordinator

January 2020

Approaches to SEL

  • Increasing the number of SEL lessons delivered to students, with a focus on Tier 1 support.
  • Participating in a pilot program to utilize Sources of Strength curriculum with kindergarten students.
  • Utilizing Second Step curriculum in all K-2 and grade 6-8 classrooms.
  • Utilizing Sources of Strength curriculum (grades 3-5) in all district elementary schools.
  • Emphasizing beginning each day with morning meetings and welcoming activities which, in addition to fostering a sense of community in the classroom, enable teachers to determine which students may require additional attention or support on any given day. 
  • Implementing CASEL’s three signature SEL practices into all classrooms: a welcoming inclusion activity to begin the day, a brain break or engaging strategy in the middle of class, and optimistic closure at the end.
  • Utilizing district-wide SEL Train the Trainer time to develop teaching practices that promote student SEL skills.
  • Reintroducing access to a district-wide pet therapy program, wherein students have opportunities to interact with a pet therapy team. By bringing in these animals on a regular basis, rather than only in response to traumatic events, Grand Forks Public Schools intends to help students be excited to come to school. 
  • Creating opportunities for more staff to receive training in Calm Classroom, an approach to teaching mindfulness in the classroom.
  • Establishing Advisor-Advisee pairings in all district middle schools. For 25 minutes each day, students in grades 6-8 partner with an adult advisor on team building activities, Second Step curriculum, and additional support the student may require.
  • Recruiting building and district administrators to model the three signature SEL practices into staff meetings, allowing teachers to experience their impact first-hand.
  • Curating a Stories of Strength section in each district library, where students and staff can find materials relating to mental health, SEL, and resilience. 

Facilitators of Systemic SEL

  • Established a district-wide SEL Core Team, who attend all ND SEL Network events and meet quarterly to review the district’s progress, goals, and challenges.
  • Established a district-wide MTSS leadership team to ensure that students are being supported holistically. 
  • Established a School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) Team at each school. 
  • Continuously adding positions to their Unified Mental Health Team in order to best support their growing district.
  • Aligning Professional Learning Community across all levels in the district to allow for greater collaboration.
  • Hosting quarterly Train the Trainer sessions focused on specific SEL-related topics. 
  • Building strong relationships with community partners who can support Grand Forks Public Schools as they support their students.
  • Increasing the number of onboarding hours dedicated to educating new staff on topics related to SEL and mental health.
  • Partnering with Panorama Education to assess both adult and student SEL. 
  • Conducting screenings to identify students in need of group trauma interventions.
  • Creating a universal screening committee to continuously evaluate and improve assessment tools.
  • Conducting regular SHAPE evaluations at all schools.
  • Utilizing Second Step’s reporting mechanism to ensure curriculum is being delivered in all classrooms. 
  • Partnering with Sources of Strength to conduct follow-up surveys with elementary students, teachers, and counselors to determine the curriculum’s impact on the district. 
  • Training staff in Panorama Education’s MTSS features to track interventions and monitor progress within the platform. 
  • Tracking the frequency of specific occurrences such as CPS reports, suicide assessments, and behavior facilitator requests ​​in order to best support students and staff.
  • Establishing the STEP program for students with extenuating circumstances. Students are able to continue their education in an alternative setting with access to a therapist, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals. 
  • Created a Mentor Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where students can receive technology support, academic tutoring, SEL programming and mental health support.
  • Utilizing Panorama Student Success Dashboard to not only illustrate individual students’ data, but provide insight into what the district as a whole is doing well and what could be improved upon. 
  • Allocating resources based on results of SHAPE assessments such as the School Mental Health Quality Assessment and Trauma Responsive Schools Implementation Assessment to address the district’s opportunities for growth. 
  • Partnering with Panorama Education to train staff at every school on tools such as the Data Dashboard.


When I think of the SEL Network, it is about bringing people together, sharing resources, and collaborating with each other….The Network was the impetus for us to create our team, and it's the glue that helps hold us together. We all do better when we’re held accountable.

Geoff GauklerMental Health Coordinator