Check & Connect Makes Connections in Australia and New Zealand
The Institute's Check & Connect program has reached south of the equator. The comprehensive student engagement intervention is being implemented in Australia and New Zealand. Check & Connect director Jean Echternacht and ICI director David R. Johnson were warmly received in August when they spent nearly three weeks "down under" promoting it. "It was rewarding to see how a relationship-based, evidence-based model developed at the University of Minnesota is being implemented with fidelity so far from home," says Echternacht. Last fall, Check & Connect mentors from Australia and New Zealand presented at the program's 25th anniversary conference in Minneapolis. Echternacht and Johnson returned the favor by co-presenting at conferences in both countries last month. "More than 100 people who were informed and interested in Check & Connect attended our presentation at the New Zealand Schoolwide Conference on Positive Behavior Supports; we were invited to speak there because they implement Check & Connect as part of PBS," says Echternacht. They also discussed Check & Connect with officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, which has used it in high schools for the past three years and began implementing the model in middle schools this fall. And Echternacht packed another ICI export in her luggage: "I brought along Expanding the Circle, a transition curriculum originally designed for American Indian students, to help with their indigenous students, and the Ministry staff were delighted."