Valley City
Public Schools

“We’ve been able to meet the needs of more students through our SEL system.”

Vanessa KockaElementary School Counselor

Member Profile

Member since January 2020


A strong sense of teamwork, not only within the district but with outside agencies as well, has served as the foundation for Valley City Public Schools’ successes in systemic SEL work. Notably, through their relationship with the Sheyenne Valley Special Education Unit, Valley City Public Schools has been able to learn from the practices and experiences of highly qualified specialists as well as other districts in their area. 

Problem Of Practice

How do we create an aligned K-12 continuum of support for students to access, and how will we know when our students need to access a specific SEL support? 

How do we educate our entire staff on SEL, regardless of position or role?

Growth Opportunities

Establishing consistent implementation and assessment practices district-wide. 

Growing the commitment of staff and community members outside of the District SEL Leadership Team to the value of integrating SEL in the classroom.

Certified Staff Size
Classified Staff Size
Number of Buildings
Team Lead

Vanessa Kocka, Elementary School Counselor

Approaches to SEL

  • Utilizing Second Step (Social-Emotional Learning curriculum resource) in all classrooms, grades K-6.
  • Utilizing Seven Mindsets (Social-Emotional Learning curriculum resource) in classrooms, grades 7-12.
  • Practicing morning meeting process at all grade levels to foster a sense of belonging and community within the classroom.
  • Instructing students in mindful movement and self-regulation techniques as early as pre-K.
  • Encouraging students to share their voices and shape their school’s culture through Student Council.
  • Hosting retreats through Youth Frontiers to promote kindness and prevent bullying.
  • Beginning to study ND SEL Network-generated resources, such as the ND Content Standards Crosswalk, to identify ways to promote integration of SEL into core curriculum at all levels and across all content areas.

Facilitators of Systemic SEL

  • Dedicating in-service days to SEL work, including hosting guest speakers on topics such as bullying prevention and resilience training. 
  • Establishing partnerships with community organizations such as the ND SEL Network and the Village Family Service Center. 
  • Establishing the Valley City District Culture Team to enhance staff culture and foster a sense of community within the district.
  • Establishing building-level teams to focus on advancing SEL implementation.
  • Using Professional Learning Community (PLC) time intentionally to establish goals, monitor progress, and discuss opportunities for growth.
  • Simplifying the screening process with QR codes to encourage high school students to participate in monthly SEL self-evaluations. 
  • Completing Trauma-Informed Practices for Schools (TIPS) Needs Assessment and Self-Assessment North Dakota (SAND).
  • Introducing the DESSA strengths-based screening tool from Aperture Education for grades K-8. 
  • Developing assessment protocols and procedures as it relates to safety & SEL.
  • Coming Soon!
  • Bringing students into intervention groups to address their specific needs—academic, behavioral, social, and emotional—as identified by screening tools. 
  • Implementing Access for All programming to provide intensive behavioral health support.
  • Implementing focused check-ins to mitigate safety risks.
  • Using data and insights from the DESSA screening tool to monitor progress, measure outcomes, and take action with strategies to bolster social and emotional growth and improve overall student achievement.


We’ve been able to meet the needs of more students through our SEL system...The leadership from the Network has helped give us direction, and the resources that are available through the Network have helped us implement our system.

Vanessa KockaElementary School Counselor
What is NDSEL?
Minot Schools Program
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