The TREE Approach


Inspired by the Community Learning Exchange approach, the TREE Research Practice Partnership Team conducted hours of focus group conversations in schools throughout Washington County, listening to and learning from school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community partners. These conversations were fundamental to developing the TREE approach, which recognizes that what rural schools most need to support the success of all students are the tools and resources to:


  • Mental health and wellness

  • Material resources


  • Empower students

  • Promote social, emotional, cognitive, and ethical development


  • Instructional strategies

  • Capacity and leadership practices

  • Professional development


By working with students, schools, families, and communities to build capacity in these three areas, TREE helps create safe, empowering, and effective educational environments.

TREE is working closely with 3 Washington County elementary schools to offer structural supports that include:

A full time Resource Coach who works side by side with teachers, providing coaching in student-empowered whole-child trauma-informed practices and strategies. TREE’s resource coaches are absolutely instrumental to successful program implementation. They are individuals who are known and trusted in their communities. They work with other community members and agencies to coordinate resources so that children have enough food, warm winter clothing, and footwear and they serve as the go-to contact for parents and teachers wishing to refer a child for mental health supports.

A part-time Mental Health Provider who offers services in each school to children and families who otherwise would not have access to such supports. TREE mental health services are available to students who do not have MaineCare or insurance, thus filling a critical gap in services. In addition, transportation barriers are eliminated because services are available  on site, during the school day. TREE mental health providers also consult, when necessary, with coaches, teachers, administrators, and parents.who coordinates with outside agencies to provide mental health services on site, thus removing transportation barriers. TREE’s Mental Health Coach provides support throughout the school, to children, teachers, and to entire classrooms.

In addition, TREE also supports all interested schools in Washington County through professional development opportunities.