Mental Health and Social Emotional Wellness

The Brewster Central School District values all aspects of student learning. We follow a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) framework. In service to this model, we have adopted RULER at the K-5 level and COPE at the secondary level as a means of providing curricular and instructional supports to all students. Additional proactive measures, such as being clear and explicit about behavior expectations, are also essential to our approach. As students require more intensive interventions, we respond in a research-based and individualized manner.

Several years ago we commenced a taskforce as a way to assess how we can strengthen our already strong K-12 mental health program. A recommendation of this taskforce was additional resources for our staff and students. Over the last several years, we have worked to operationalize these resources, including providing curricular supports to ensure that students and staff have the resources to support the affective, or social-emotional growth, of our students. Further, in the spring of 2017, our Board of Education supported the creation the new position of mental health counselors at both the high school and K-8 levels. These individuals work in tandem with our existing team to further support and provide more targeted assistance to students who may require more intensive interventions.

It is our hope that this site serves as an informational resource to parents/guardians, students, and staff, while celebrating the good work being done across the district.

What is Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS)?

From our MTSS plan: Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a “framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum” (   The intent of a school-wide PBIS approach is to assist students in making certain that they are aware of the behavioral expectations and that structures are in place to remind them of these expectations. A systemic approach to examining, interpreting and measuring behavior should also lead to the implementation of proven interventions that improve both behavioral and academic outcomes. 

RULER (Recognize, Understand, Label, Express & Regulate) Image of Title Page of RULER presentation

RULER is an evidence-based approach to learning that assists students in Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating their emotions. Since emotions influence decision-making, creativity, relationships, health and overall learning, teaching students to appreciate and interact with their emotions is an important priority. During the 2017-18 school year, the K-5 staff will be trained (in many cases re-trained) in the tenets of RULER and will be provided actionable examples of what a RULER-integrated classroom looks like. 

Triange with the words Feeling, Thinking, Behaving at its cornersCOPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment)

Our social-emotional approach at the secondary level is COPE, Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment. COPE is a research-based, skill-building path to holistic physical and social-emotional health. COPE promotes a healthy lifestyle, asks students to consider the relationship between thinking and behavior, and provides strategies for dealing with challenges. Students at Henry H. Wells Middle School and Brewster High School have begun engaging with this program, and all students at the secondary level will be exposed to this program by the end of the 2017-18 school year.

COPE Sessions

What does PBIS look like in each school?

Brewster High School:

  • To kick off the school year, Brewster High School invited motivational speaker Blake Fly to come and speak to the student body. He challenged BHS students and staff to acknowledge and engage with ten new people a day in an effort to build community.
  • Democratic Congress hosted a Discussion on Diversity in October. Students shared their experiences and shared ideas on how to improve the school community. We will build on this powerful event with similar discussions in the future.
  • Dr. Mykee Fowlin will also present to the student body in November. His message of, “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me”. This is another example of the PBIS Committee’s dedication to a welcoming and supportive BHS.

H.H. Wells Middle School:

  • H.H. Wells Middle School is committed to fostering a school community where everyone feels safe and respected. This is accomplished through our Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS). Our PBIS is student driven thus providing a platform for students to participate and exchange ideas.
  • Positive Reinforcement is utilized through our Bear Bucks Reward Program and Grade Level Meetings to promote Civic Responsibility, Perseverance, Collaboration/Communication, Adaptability and Critical Thinking. These are the skills essential for success as adopted in our Strategic Coherence Plan.
  • As part of the student social emotional learning, a common summer reading experience is incorporated into monthly themes which target specific skills to help foment a positive and caring school community.

C.V. Starr Intermediate School:

  • CV Starr promotes a behavior system that nurtures students’ character development in the areas of respect, responsibility and caring. CV Starr students are encouraged and expected to be STARR students where they demonstrate how to be Safe, Thoughtful, Accountable, Responsible and Respectful.
  • We are in the process of strengthening our Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and are beginning to integrate the tenets espoused in the RULER approach to social emotional development from the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence.
  • As the school year continues to unfold there will be more information shared with families regarding character development and how the adults in our school system continue to help our students make good choices.

J.F.K. Elementary School:

  • JFK Elementary values the importance of each student’s social emotional development. We are in the process of integrating the RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, Regulating Emotions) approach within our Positive Behavior Interventions Supports (PBIS). At JFK students are encouraged to be good C.U.B.S by Caring for Others, Using Respectful Behavior, Being Responsible, and that Safety Matters.
  • As the school year progresses, we look forward to working with parents/guardians to promote student character development and social emotional growth by providing them with goals and strategies from RULER to help students make good choices.


Photo of Erin Alvarez
Erin Alvarez
Brewster High School
(845) 279-5051, x1120

Photo of Helga Cluzet
Helga Cluzet
H.H. Wells Middle School
(845) 279-3702 x2148
Introductory Letter