By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
RISE program deals with student behavior
RISE presentation 2024
Director of Barton County Special Services Ashley Riley talks about the RISE program Monday at the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting. RISE (Resilience, Inspire, Self Empowerment) is a program that fosters social-emotional learning skills and could decrease the number of out-of-school suspensions. - photo by Susan Thacker

Disruptive social-emotional behaviors in Great Bend schools will be addressed with a new program called RISE, which stands for Resilience, Inspire, Self Empowerment. Barton County Special Services Director Ashley Riley and Park Elementary Principal Kelsey Sciacca presented the program to the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education on Monday and it received board approval.

Park Elementary and the Special Education Cooperative teamed up with education consultant/professional learning agency ESSDACK to figure out a solution to the following challenges found in, but not unique to, Great Bend:

• Students had many lagging skills

• Students were not learning

• Students returned with no additional supports in place

• Students and teachers face burnout by repeating this process without help

• Fractured relationships between school and home

The RISE program provides an alternative to out-of-school suspension (OSS) and is also for students who are not classroom-ready because of their behavior. The emphasis of the program rests on teaching students the strategies needed to be successful in the classroom, as well as responsibility and accountability to their school community.

RISE provides a support system for students and teachers alike, Riley said. It helps build relationships between home and school, and helps students regulate their emotions. This program is primarily for elementary students who are not in special education.

“We have a number of students who received OSS due to behaviors,” Riley said. “Students are returned with no additional supports in place. That’s definitely not from a lack of trying.”

Creating an alternative setting for these students that focuses on instruction, safety, relationship and emotional well-being not only helps the student, it reduces burnout in teachers who finding themselves repeating the process of dealing with behavior issues. At Level 1, a student will be placed in a RISE Room, a quiet area with a desk and no distractions. However, the long-term goal is a transition back into the general education population, Sciacca said.

The program will start by training Restorative Practice Coaches and an Adversity Team. This team is front-and-center in welcoming the student back to the elementary school and to their classroom. This team is also spending time learning about deep brain science. 

Whole-staff training with follow.

The cost for this program is a one-time payment to ESSDACK of $13,000 that includes the RISE framework, curriculum, training and coaching, and restorative practices training. It will also require staff. Judy Sneath will administer it. This will also require a student family advocate and a teacher. All three would be at the Washington Education Center.

Riley said the sponsors want to start small and check the viability of the program, which is why the first semester it will only be at Park Elementary School.

“Park has the buy-in right now. That’s not to say that the other schools are not. We have been the ones that have been having his conversation in order to do something. Then second semester, we would look at having it at least one of the other schools, depending on the needs of the students.”

Board member Sara Williams was the first to voice support, saying, “I think it’s a great idea. I love this idea; I love the support this will be providing to the teachers.”


Also Monday, the board approved renewing the district membership in Hutchinson-based ESSDACK (Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas). The cost is $18,545. Superintendent Khris Thexton said USD 428 had dropped its membership for a time.

“Last year was our first year back. We’ve gotten our money’s worth; their training has been very beneficial to us.”