MTSS Leadership Institute

This year, DESE held the first MTSS Leadership Institute in Boxborough, MA on September 26th and 27th, 2019. Over the course of this two-day event, 67 district teams from across Massachusetts, came together to learn more about the new MTSS Blueprint, discuss leadership strategies and identify next steps towards building a more effective, comprehensive approach to support MTSS at the school, district, and state levels. School & Main Institute played a key roll in developing and implementing this inaugural event. 

All students are capable of grade-level learning with adequate support. MTSS is rooted in proactivity and prevention. The system utilizes evidence-based practices. Decisions and procedures are driven by school and student data. The degree of support given to each student is based on their needs. Implementation occurs schoolwide and requires stakeholder collaboration.

For more information:

MTSS Blueprint posted from DESE website

Massachusetts Tools for Schools Resources aligned to support MTSS implementation 

MTSS Academy information




JDAIconnect: “Reimagining Juvenile Justice” Brings Professional Development to Frontline Staff

Reposted here from the JDAIconnect blog site. Written by Kathy Flynn Woodland, June 19, 2019

Momentum is building to deliver more targeted professional development to frontline staff who work with young people involved in the justice system. The desired result is frontline professionals with the skills, support and partnerships they need to help young people thrive.

The professional development is called Reimagining Juvenile Justice (RJJ). Successfully piloted in Massachusetts in 2016-17, a national competition was held in early 2018 to bring the opportunity to practitioners in another JDAI site. Pima County, Arizona was selected and successfully launched the RJJ last year.

The spread of RJJ to JDAI sites is following a train-the-trainer model. We held a Train-the Trainer Institute in May 2019 with 15 jurisdictions represented. (The jurisdictions applied for this opportunity earlier this year and were selected in a competitive process.)

Each of the 15 jurisdictions made a commitment to deliver the RJJ curriculum to a group of frontline staff in their jurisdictions by the end of 2019. The trainers have a wealth of resources, tools and curriculum material to help them as they design and implement RJJ back home.

Each jurisdiction will select a cross-section of probation officers and other public and community based partners to receive the training first. The curriculum is designed to build their capacity to support, divert and redirect youth to appropriate and fair justice options, including options that require a high degree of cross-system collaboration and coordination.

The trainers at the Institute are enthusiastic about helping to help transform practice back in their state and/or county. “I am excited about this training opportunity with my co-workers and colleagues in our county,” said one trainer. “There is a lot interest from court staff and our community partners.” Another said, “I became a believer after the first exercise.”

RJJ is sponsored by the Casey Foundation and delivered through School & Main Institute. Both organizations continue to collect feedback, input and site evaluations to keep improving the RJJ curriculum and scale-up learning opportunities for juvenile justice professionals. By 2020, portions of the RJJ curriculum will be available broadly on JDAIconnect.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation JDAIconnect is a virtual destination for juvenile justice reformers to talk, find resources and learn. A part of the Casey Foundation's Community Cafe platform, JDAIconnect is available to everyone — practitioners, policy makers, community-based organizations, advocates, youth, families, researchers and any others — who are interested in youth justice. Membership is open to all, whether or not you participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative®, and free of charge. For more information, please click here.


LEAP 2.0 Kick Off Meeting in Baltimore: “Envisioning something that’s totally and radically different”

Traveling from all over the U.S., 22 LEAP partners, 10 Casey Foundation team members, 10 SMI Liaisons, and 4 powerful Youth Leaders convened at the Indigo Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland on June 13, 2019 for the LEAP 2.0 Kick Off.  This 2-day conference hosted by the Casey Foundation and facilitated by School & Main Institute challenged participants to take a deeper dive into the practices and approaches implemented at their individual programs, then invited them to dig in a little further.  Local partnerships spent the last 3 years adapting the core beliefs and structures to better align with to scale their LEAP strategies across multiple youth systems in order to increase access to and build systems that support quality education and employment pathways for young people facing some of the greatest challenges on the path to adulthood.

Race Forward presented on racial and ethnic equity and inclusion.   The room was captivated by their workshop, especially since our young people face racial and ethnic equity issues on a daily basis in almost every aspect of their lives.  As a diverse community, we are shifting the narrative to create opportunities for advancement that include all youth. 

In just a 2-day time span, teams celebrated each other’s successes, acknowledged challenges, started mapping out methods for shifting program strengths to system wide strengths, and took in an Oriole’s baseball game, even though some of us are die-hard Red Sox fans.


Reimagining Juvenile Justice Training Institute

The Casey Foundation is expanding the Reimagining Juvenile Justice (RJJ) footprint in 2019 with a Train-the-Trainer Institute hosted by School & Main Institute in Denver, CO. The training focused on RJJ’s core curriculum and concepts and instructional strategies for maximizing adult learning. The Institute was attended by two-person teams, from 15 jurisdictions around the country. Upon completion of the Training Institute, the training teams will be responsible for delivering the RJJ curriculum to a multi-agency cohort in their home communities between May and December 2019.

Reimagining Juvenile Justice (RJJ) is a staff development initiative sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and delivered through School & Main Institute (SMI). RJJ is designed for professionals working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system and their families. Its objective is to develop the capacity of professionals to support, divert and redirect youth to appropriate and fair justice options, including options that require a high degree of cross-system collaboration and coordination. It is based on research on adolescent development that shows youth thrive in a positive environment with the support of caring adults.

To read more from Annie E. Casey, click here. For information on JDAIconnect, click here.



Systems for Student Success Initiative Cross District Meeting

In the meeting on April 10th, 2019, we focused on the integration of SEL and academics and what leading this work in an integrated way looks like. We explored how two districts - Pittsfield and Somerville – are collecting and using data to drive system improvements. We came up with ways to hold ourselves accountable for progress. What would help build support locally and what would help ESE continue its investment?

In a Nutshell

Founded in 1985 at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, School & Main Institute (SMI) has grown into a nationally recognized, independent non-profit training and partnership development organization that has worked with organizations and state agencies in more than 35 states.


School & Main Institute staff and faculty have years of expertise as organizational leaders, program developers, trainers, and facilitators in the fields of education, workforce preparation, youth and community development.

Read more about what we are currently working on >

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