Auburn School District’s All-Staff Wellness Day Lays Foundation for a Culture of Care

“SEL is about preparing students and staff for quality instruction, quality learning, and quality interaction, because that’s where we are spending all of our time.”

Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Larson, Family Engagement & Student Success Dept

On September 1, Auburn School District provided a day of wellness training for all 2600 of their staff!

Thursday, September 1, we were thrilled to spend the ENTIRE day with Auburn School District Staff during their first All-Staff Wellness training day!

This district-wide day of wellness and staff training was planned and executed by a collaborative team at the district level. In the Family Engagement & Student Success Department, Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Larson and her staff worked with the Business and Operations Department led by Associate Superintendent Cindi Blansfield.


Meeting a Requirement AND a Need

Planning began for All-Staff Wellness Day in February 2022. Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Larson said the idea was in response to both a requirement from the state and a need that was expressed by district leadership and staff. Washington State requires that school districts provide professional development alternating on a two-year cycle of equity and social emotional learning (SEL). This year the focus is on SEL, which the Auburn team knew was incredibly important after 2.5 years of interrupted learning due to the pandemic. They wanted to create an experience where ALL staff – instructional and non-instructional – could come together in community and learn.  Their goal was to plan a full day that could include all 2600 district staff and meet their unique and collective interests in social emotional learning.

Larson explained that the day of wellness was meant to address the intersectionality of three educational elements – rigorous academic instruction, explicit teaching and practicing of social emotional skills, and responding to student behavior. For a district to successfully address all three elements, all adults must be skilled and the skills in all three areas need to be continually strengthened.

She says that addressing the intersection of the three elements moves the district toward their vision of a “culture of care,” and lays the groundwork for district-wide MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support). The workshops at wellness day and shared understanding gained that day are an important piece of the foundation.


Sound Discipline Workshops Bring All Staff Together

Our Director of Program, Stacy Lappin, responded to Larson’s request for presenters with a list of ideas for SEL-focused and trauma-responsive workshops infused with practical tools that could be used right away and offered the opportunity for district staff to learn from each other. Lappin was delighted when Larson responded that they would like to have SD present 7 different workshops.

The Sound Discipline Facilitator Team takes a break for lunch the Auburn Wellness Day. Pictured here are Lex, Kayla, Stacy, Jen, Corrina, Aaron, and Roshaé.

Our SD Auburn team of seven facilitators enthusiastically planned and prepared the workshops over the summer. We were graciously supported by the ASD staff as we facilitated these sessions on Staff Wellness Day to hundreds of engaged, appreciative, and open educators:

– Bus Drivers & Transportation Staff: Tools for Being a Buffering Adult
– Regulate, Relate, Reason: Brain Science to Supercharge your Teacher Tool Kit
– Rethinking Accountability: A Restorative Response to Messing Up
– Growing Equitable Classroom Communities
– Behavior is Communication: What is the Message Behind the Misbehavior
– Classified Staff: Connected and Firm Responses to Behavior
– A New Look at Misbehavior: Why Kids Do What They Do and How We Can Help
Them Get Back on Track

Auburn School District bus drivers and transportation staff during their “Tools for Being a Buffering Adult” session.

The bus drivers appreciated learning the brain science behind the things many of them do naturally – connect with students, build relationships, and give students opportunities to make choices and have their voices heard. They were excited to support each other with ideas of how to respond to some of the real challenges in their role that come from the responsibility to drive the bus, keep kids safe, and show up as another caring adult in their life. The ASD transportation staff do so many things to show students they belong and matter as they ride to and from their schools!


Making it Work for 2600 People

To make the day of learning truly accessible for all staff, the small planning team from district offices managed as many day-of, logistical details as they could.  When they said the training was for the full district, they meant it.  Support offices were closed for the day.  The planning team stood behind their words, for example, setting up rooms, ordering catered lunches, and dealing with janitorial issues so custodial staff and nutrition staff could participate in the workshops and activities.


Carrying the Experiences Forward into this School Year

Going forward into this school year, Larson says the goal is to continue to support and build on the SEL learning for students and all adults in the system. She feels this first all-district wellness day was a great success, they learned a lot, and she is honored to represent the amazing group of people who pulled it all together.  Most of all, she expressed her gratitude to us, stating that “without partners like Sound Discipline answering our call, the day of learning would not have been as relevant for each of the many roles of he ASD staff.”