See How Sound Discipline Lives in our Schools

Nooksack Valley School District, Everson, WA

Nooksack Valley Counseling Team
Nooksack Valley SD Counselors - Ali Steffan, Lindsay Anderson, Stephanie Deboer and Heather Taylor


Donning superhero costumes is new for Nooksack Valley School District counselors, but they will do whatever it takes to support students and staff! When they couldn’t teach kids self-regulation and social emotional learning skills in person, they got creative and filmed some videos to help kids reach the superhero within themselves.

As part of their district-wide theme of Resilience, Relationship and Routine, the counseling team has put forth super-human efforts. “These three things [Resilience, Relationship and Routine] contribute to kids and grown-ups being more resilient and ready to face challenges…to endure this unknown,” explains Ali Steffan, counselor at Everson Elementary.

“We know that in order to learn, children need to feel safe, secure and seen,” added Lindsay Anderson, K-5 Nooksack Valley Mental Health Lead. “We wanted to create a culture [in this district] that is implicitly spurring us on to feel good and to be our best.” The Resilience, Relationship and Routine theme is tied into professional development, where they encouraged teachers to connect with their students through a classroom meeting each morning, a relationship-building routine for teachers and students.

Nooksack Counselors

A significant hurdle for many families in the district was that they are unable to pay for wifi. The counselors worked with the local community to create Community Learning Hubs in churches, senior-centers and empty schools. Retired teachers, grandparents and other community members stepped forward to volunteer to provide socially distanced support to students at the hubs. “The volunteers know the students’ schedules and are there helping them get online,” said Stephanie Deboer, counselor at Nooksack Elementary.

The counseling team has leaned into their theme of Resilience, Relationship and Routine to support teachers as well. One school has created a staff reset room, where teachers can go to de-stress and find calm. Heather Taylor, counselor at Sumac Elementary, surveyed her staff to discover how each individual teacher feels most encouraged, so efforts to support them can be individualized. “We are asking a lot from our staff,” adds Ali.

Relationships with families are a priority. The district is partnering with Sound Discipline to offer a Positive Discipline online parenting series that is free for parents. The focus is to provide practical tools and support for parents and caregivers. School district leadership has been proactive in ensuring that connections are established with parents and families. Meetings were held with every family in the district to be sure that each student has what they need for this new school year. Teachers report feeling closer to the families of their students and hope that closeness will continue to grow.

Teamwork is key. Ali Steffan explains, “The biggest support we can give students is to give them a team that does not operate separately from community and family. This [pandemic] time gives us the opportunity to bring people together and wrap around students to bolster relationships and their resilience.”

The staff and students of the Nooksack Valley School District are fortunate to have super heroes on their side.

Campbell Hill Elementary, Renton, WA

Kristin Shimizu’s third grade scholars designed their own service-learning project at Campbell Hill Elementary school. The students started by researching a problem: kindergartners at their school were having a hard time being successful at recess. They learned this from looking at behavior data, talking with teachers and their own observations. From their research, the third graders identified areas to support their kindergarten friends: how to join in a game, being helpful not hurtful to each other with words and actions, following the rules on the big toy and lining up at the end of recess. The third graders’ solution was to create 3 jobs: traffic director, line leader, and recess assistant.

Each day the third graders attend morning recess with the kindergartners. They wear special lanyards which identify them as helpers. They model how to play safely, support problem solving, remind about rules, and support lining up at the end of recess.

Data and feedback from teachers show they’ve made a positive difference on the playground. Kindergartners are having more fun, being safe on the big toy, lining up well and successfully transitioning back to learning after recess. When the third grade leaders asked how they felt about their project, they described a sense of confidence and pride in making a difference in their school. They’re also proud of their kindergarten friends and the skills they have developed. One third grader said, “I learned that kids really can make a difference.”

Dick Scobee Elementary School, Auburn, WA



Amanda Brooks, a 2nd Grade Teacher, and the team from Dick Scobee Elementary created a plan for Substitute Teachers. Amanda has been a substitute teacher, and knows firsthand how challenging it can be. Students have big feelings when their teacher is gone, and the changes are dysregulating. Amanda understands the importance of forming relationship with students, as well as being clear about expectations, so she volunteered to write a Guest Teacher Lesson Plan for the staff at Dick Scobee to use. Before the Guest Teacher teaches, the class generates a poster of how they could have an Almost Perfect School Day with the Guest Teacher. In the picture, you can see what Amanda’s class came up with. Then, Guest Teachers follow Amanda’s lesson plan, which involves:

  1. Reviewing the student-generated agreements on the poster, and
  2. Facilitating a fun, “get to know you” activity to build relationships with students.

So far, this has been very well received by the Guest Teachers and a helpful support to the students. Thanks Amanda—and the entire Dick Scobee team—for being thoughtful and intentional about building your students’ resilience when facing the challenge of having a new teacher for the day.

Dry Creek Elementary School, Port Angeles, WA

The photos above are from Dry Creek Elementary's Calming Center for students. Dry Creek Elementary Staff left to right: Dana Christensen, School Counselor Intern and Calming Center Trauma Informed Practitioner; Debi Pavlich-Boaz, Dean of Students; Laura Lilly, School Counselor; Brittane Hendricks, Principal.


The team at Dry Creek Elementary School committed to transforming a classroom into “The Calming Center”, a place where students learn intentional mindfulness and self-regulation strategies.  The space is not intended as a de-escalation room (they do that elsewhere in the school) but a place for students to practice mindfulness and build their self-regulation muscles. Students are walked through a series of lessons on how to use the different stations and specific techniques. After going through 6 short intro lessons, students may sign up for independent 15-minute sessions. Staff hope this intentional practice will help students develop long-lasting skills for calming down and coping with life’s challenges.  This effort inspires us to think about how we can support the development of intentional spaces for students to develop and practice the critical lifelong skill of self-regulation. Thank you, Dry Creek staff, for your commitment to improving outcomes for the students in your community.

Honey Dew Elementary School, Renton, WA

In 2018, Honey Dew Elementary School Principal Misty Mbadugha piloted a “school-wide class meeting” that brought together several student representatives from each grade level for a Positive Discipline class meeting. The group now meets twice per month to focus on solutions to school-wide challenges. The group of students changes throughout the year so that more young people can participate in this community-building opportunity.

The structure of the meetings replicates the format that students use in the classrooms: Compliments, reviewing previous solutions, problem solving, and leave ’em laughing. The group of student reps has brought problems to the meeting such as: hallway behavior, bathroom expectations, and recess. The group worked on a set of hallway expectations and voted to post those expectations throughout the school as a reminder. The staff noticed that students all have more “buy-in” because they came up with the expectations, rather than the adults making the rules and expecting compliance.

Students also worked on recess problems out on the field. The proposed solutions include: using cones as boundaries, increasing the area they can play in, and asking others to join in your games. The focus on “helpful not hurtful” has empowered the students to come up with solutions that will help the school be a better place as a whole. It also increases agency in the students and the sense that they have ownership in the school and can actually make a difference in what happens there. Principal Mbadugha runs these meetings so that students continue to see Honey Dew as “their school” and that students can not only solve problems in their classrooms, but in the halls, the cafeteria, and everywhere! Thank you Honey Dew Elementary for celebrating student voice and creating an opportunity for students to improve their school.

Highlands Elementary School, Renton, WA

Alfred DiBlasio and the team from Highlands Elementary School in Renton are our Sound Discipline Champions this month.  We celebrate them for supporting families though the Renton Parent University.  Alfred invited Sound Discipline to be the presenters for the Jan 25th Parent University session. We presented our “Parenting from the Heart: Introduction to Parenting with Positive Discipline” session for the community.

Principal Alfred DiBlasio says, “From my perspective, having common language and understanding around discipline is critical. The parent night allowed for our parent community to gain tools connected to Sound Discipline and better understand the philosophy we are moving towards as a school. I am leading a vision that allows discipline to teach children in a helpful/respectful way. It’s exactly how I would want my own children to experience discipline. Connecting families to this same vision is an important step toward consistency.”

Thanks Alfred and the Highlands team, for your support of your entire community by presenting parents with the opportunity to learn some of the same tools that teachers are using in their children’s classrooms.

Would you like to see our work in schools for yourself?

"Living Proof"

Hear what the educators, administrators, and schools we’ve worked with have to say about us:

Thank you so much for this morning’s professional development. It was uplifting, purposeful, and engaging for staff. I appreciate your dedication to our continued growth and designing work that is meaningful and adapts to our needs. I heard shifts in staff’s language and attitudes during and after the session.
Principal, Lakeridge Elementary

At Dimmitt Middle School, the data team noticed lunch detention was not helping a group fo 6th, 7th and 8th graders. The same students seemed to be there regularly, and so the teachers decided to learn more from the students. Small groups of students met with the school staff and a Sound Discipline facilitator to explore the impact of lunch detention. The students were reflective, articulate and passionate. They had lots of ideas about why detention didn’t work to change behavior.  They were creative and thoughtful about how to improve the situation. They requested time to repair relationships with their teachers. They asked to go back to their classroom and either make up their work or help the teacher. The staff listened well and is using the students’ ideas to make changes. When students’ voices are heard, it empowers both the students and the staff.

Like all teachers, I find myself vulnerable to frequent feelings of frustration and helplessness when students don’t behave as I would like them to. Understanding the basic tenet of Positive Discipline, that everyone wants to belong and feel significant, allows me to understand at a deep level that all misbehavior is a mistaken attempt to attain significance.

I am impressed with how positively my students are responding to the changes I am making. They love the compliment circle, are very positive about helping each other solve problems in class meetings, and they are taking more ownership of their behavior throughout the day. They use the bugs and wishes protocol to discuss problems. I feel more effective as a teacher and am very excited to implement more Positive Discipline techniques.

Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School

I started the activity with the apple by calling it a word that I heard a lot in my classroom, ‘You’re too light to be a red apple’ and dropped it on the ground. I passed it to the next student who promptly called it stupid and dropped it on the ground. As the apple went around the room, students began to progressively become more forceful with the apple, almost throwing it to the ground. I noticed that the more forceful the throw was, the more hurtful the word or phrase was. The apple made it all the way around the circle until it got to the next to the last student. He looked at the apple, said that it wasn’t good enough and threw it across the circle where it broke in half.

After giving a moment of silence for the students to take in the broken, bruised apple on the ground I picked it up and began the very deep conversation about the broken apple. I put it back together. We talked about how it was impossible to make it whole again even though it was JUST words that they were using. When the conversation came to a natural pause, I quietly went around the room, knelt down in front of each student and showed them the bruised apple.

By the end, my students had concluded that it was their responsibility to take care of the hearts around them. They could either use their words to bruise and break or to make classmates feel like they matter and they belong in our classroom and at or school. This experience has helped my class develop empathy and be more caring toward each other.

Second grade teacher, Campbell Hill Elementary