Grants RAP also incorporates lessons learned from research in the areas of conflict, emotional
intelligence, and pain-based behavior (Garbarino & Delara, 2002; Jones & Timbers,
2002; Raychaba, 1993; Villa, 1996). Finally, RAP training enables staff to create an at-
mosphere of mutual respect with students that promotes learning.
School Psychologists the PLan
While it was clear that the poor school performance of the ED population was a sig-
as Grant Writers: nificant problem, the MCPS did not have the money to purchase the RAP program
because of the effects of the budget crisis in the county. Within the context of a poor
Getting Response Ability
economic climate, there were few external sources of funding for the program as well.
It was at this time that the director of special education was notified of a new State
Department of Education discretionary grant specifically targeted toward students
Pathways Into Our with emotional disabilities, and encouraged the Unit to apply for funding.
In the summer of 2008, the team began the work of writing the grant proposal, a
School Programs task that was quite daunting. Within a very short time period, the team needed to create
the framework for and description of the proposal, and to develop and organize writ-
ten plans for collecting initial data, conducting the training, and measuring progress
B y m i n dy R . m i l S t e i n & J u l i e S . S h i e l d S
for presentation to the superintendent for approval before submission.
the diLeMMa In mid-October, the Department of Education approved the grant with full funding,
What are school staff to do when inspiration strikes but the funding to carry out a which allowed the ED Unit to be able to train all high school staff in the RAP curricu-
vision is lacking? This was the dilemma faced by the staff of the Emotional Disabil- lum. The funds would cover the costs of hiring an experienced RAP trainer, training
ity Services Unit (ED Unit) in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in and purchasing RAP materials for more than 100 school staff members, and hiring
Maryland. The ED Unit serves 350 students who experience significant emotional substitutes to fill in for staff while they attended the 3-day training. Grant funding
challenges that impair their ability to adequately access their educational programs. also covered costs for lunch. Funds from the grant could not be used for travel ex-
Despite receiving special education services and supports, these children continue penses, but with the support of a separate school grant, it was possible to send two
to be at a significantly heightened risk for experiencing negative outcomes such as staff members to a training in Canada in order to become certified RAP trainers who
substance abuse, lower graduation rates, repeated psychiatric hospitalizations, and would then be available to be trainers for school staff, thereby eliminating the need
teenage pregnancy. to hire outside trainers in the future.
Services for MCPS students with ED are delivered at six elementary schools, nine
middle schools, and nine high schools. In addition to special education teachers and PLanning the training sessions
paraprofessionals, the unit employs 9 behavior support teachers, 10 social workers, The major goal of the team was to make meaningful changes to long-standing pat-
and 8 school psychologists to provide a full continuum of services. MCPS addresses terns of negative staff interactions and responses with students, and therefore, the
the needs of these students in the least restrictive environment, encouraging them to first step in the process was to select a RAP trainer who would be able to captivate
access a rigorous curriculum in regular education classrooms within the context of the audience. The Reclaiming Youth Institute identified a highly skilled RAP trainer
comprehensive high schools. Supplementary aids and services often include special with a rich background of educational experiences who would be able to focus on the
educators coteaching in general education classes and paraprofessionals accompany- major goal that had been established.
ing students to classes, providing them with assistance with taking notes, extra time The second step in the process, selecting the date and time of the training, proved
for assignments, and when appropriate, the use of assistive technology. problematic because the team had overestimated, by 25%, the number of people that
Students with ED, however, often feel self-conscious about accessing the support could be trained with the budget that had been established. It was necessary to elimi-
that their paraprofessionals or special educators are there to offer. Adults working nate 40 people from the initial training sessions with the expectation that they would
with the ED population need specific skills and strategies to help students grow aca- be trained at some future date.
demically and to relate in ways that will encourage students to accept support and to
be more successful in the general educational environments. Most teachers—even the training sessions
some special educators—are not trained in the behavior management skills that are The first 3-day training was a huge success, both in terms of how staff embraced the
most effective with ED students, and few special educators are taught to handle content of the training session, and the organization and flow of the daily events. There
student aggression (Gable, Hendrickson, Stephen, & Van Acker, 2002). Some high were some significant challenges, however, such as an underestimate of the amount of
school classroom management strategies encourage teachers to exclude disruptiv