• Nancy Lever, PhD

From the Field: Red Clay Consolidated School District

Nancy Lever, PhD

Co-Director, National Center for School Mental Health


with guest contributors

Adriane Simpson, Heather Godwin, Dr. Gabrielle Koury, Dr. Sarah Celestin, and Dr. Julie Giangiulio



The NCS3 Learning Collaborative facilitates 15 districts across the nation to improve their quality in trauma-informed/healing-centered, culturally responsive comprehensive school mental health systems. Even during a very complex school year, these districts have demonstrated leadership and innovation as they strive to advance safe and supportive schools.


This month, we feature one of our districts, Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware, to highlight its progress and success. Thank you to the Red Clay team leaders (Adriane Simpson, Dr. Gabrielle Koury, Dr. Sarah Celestin, Julie Giangiulio, and Heather Godwin) for contributing to this month’s spotlight:


What has been your greatest success as part of your participation in the NCS3 Learning Collaborative?

The NCS3 Learning Collaborative has given us the drive needed to continue our work around developing systems and procedures for universal screening related to social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) needs. Our district, like so many around the country, continues to face challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the learning collaborative has given us a platform for helping to keep this work moving forward.


What is one goal you hope to achieve between now and the end of the learning collaborative?

One goal we hope to achieve between now and the end of the learning collaborative is to use our district level and school level SHAPE assessment data more effectively when strategically planning around our MTSS needs.


How are you successfully engaging your school staff in the NCS3?

We have successfully been engaging our school staff in NCS3 by being consistent. We check-in frequently with the principals either by phone, text, email, Zoom and in-person visits. We are constantly assessing “where they are” and meeting them where they need to be met. For example, district team members are jumping in to assist with the facilitation of the synchronous learning sessions because our building-based team members are overwhelmed with staffing shortages and other COVID-related obstacles.


What is your team doing to help keep momentum moving forward?

Our team has found that adopting the mindset of “start small to go big” has really been helpful. We are being intentional and strategic about our action steps in efforts achieve small wins and celebrations and to avoid feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.


What is the most important lesson you have learned from participating in the NCS3 Learning Collaborative?

Again, that idea of “starting small to go big” has become our mantra. Systemic change takes time so breaking it into small chunks that are easy to digest versus trying to bite off more than we can chew has been really helpful.



When asked what contributes to the Red Clay Team’s success, one of Delaware’s state education leaders pointed to their “strong commitment to teaming and openness to learning.


Congratulations to the Red Clay Team for your hard work and progress to advance safe supportive schools!