British Columbia, Canada

Formed in 1907, the Surrey School District currently has the largest student enrollment in British Columbia, Canada, and is one of the few growing districts in the province. As of September 2021, the district encompasses 74,760 students with 103 elementary schools, 21 secondary schools, five student learning centers, three adult education centers, a distributed online learning program, and a variety of satellite and inter-agency programs. Thus, for FTF’s next spotlight, we are pleased to recognize the Director of Instruction and Student Support of the Surrey School District, Dr. Michelle Schmidt, who led the collaborative effort in the Surrey School District and FTF Behavioral Consulting.

In May 2019, Dr. Schmidt presented at the Complex Behavior Conference, which focused on showcasing effective practices and provided clinicians and caregivers with tools to improve the quality of life for the individuals under their care. In collaboration with Pacific Autism Family Network, UBC Interprofessional Continuing Education & UBC Department of Psychiatry Developmental Disorders Program, Surrey Schools hosted the conference and Dr. Gregory Hanley was the keynote speaker. The conference became the springboard for ongoing collaboration between the Surrey School District and FTF Behavior Consulting. In November 2019, Dr. Hanley, alongside a team of FTF consultants, and in partnership with Dr. Schmidt, provided face-to-face consultative PFA and SBT support to educators and parents. By the end of the school year, Surrey supported nearly 30 children and youth with severe problem behavior. Two years later, in September 2021, Surrey Schools supported 70 children.

Furthermore, approximately 140 Surrey teachers and administrators received training in the PFA and SBT process, and in September 2021, Surrey reported an attrition rate of zero. The leadership activities of Dr. Schmidt over the last several years played an integral role in Surrey’s achievements and abilities to produce such meaningful outcomes. Insightfully, she shares:

“This work has been impactful and inspirational in that we see continual gains for learners, many of whom had previously shown minimal gains despite intensive support. PFA-SBT is a collaborative problem-solving process that teaches the skills of communication, toleration, and cooperation. PFA-SBT is a trauma-assumed evidence-based process enabling our most complex learners to interact from a place of joy, within a context that ensures safety, dignity, and rapport above all else—who could want for anything more?”


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