LIKE, The Upstanders, and Angst Case Study: Plymouth Public Schools

Working across schools, organizations, and companies, we get to hear about the incredible impact the Creative Coping Toolkit (CCT) has on communities. We are excited to share the first of many case studies highlighting how our film programs are fostering positive change. Read about Plymouth Public Schools' work with the CCT. 


About five years ago, Kelly Macomber, Plymouth Public Schools’ Family & Community Engagement Specialist attended an Angst screening in Duxbury, MA. She recalls, “As soon as I saw the film, I knew our schools could benefit greatly from this.” Plymouth Public Schools, with 7,000 students and 13 schools ranging from Pre-K to 12, places a high priority on youth mental wellness. The district has firsthand seen mental well-being, bullying, and social media use negatively impact student learning as well as classroom culture. 


Plymouth Public Schools noticed an increased need for Tier I mental health support — support that fosters positive social, emotional, and behavioral skills and well-being of all students, regardless of whether they are at risk for mental health problems. Tier 1 supports are also a way to relieve stress on Tiers 2 and 3 programs so the students requiring this extra support have access. These activities include efforts to support a positive school climate and staff well-being. 

Within Plymouth schools, students and teachers were looking for support in addressing bullying behavior, and phone use in and outside the classroom, while balancing an already heavy educator workload. Time was of the essence as mental well-being was affecting student learning. 

It’s why the turn-key and customizable approach to applying the Creative Coping Toolkit was perfect for this district’s needs. 

What’s Working? 

Plymouth Public Schools are currently licensing year-long access to Angst, The Upstanders, and LIKE. The district is using the film programs across its two middle schools to take a preventative approach in promoting healthy habits and educating about mental health. 

Prior to the rollout and implementation of the programs, the faculty at both middle schools met to assign each grade to one of the CCT film programs: 6th graders, since most of the students had a phone by then are working with LIKE, 7th graders with Angst, and faculty assigned The Upstanders to its 8th-grade classes. 

This year’s current 8th-grade classes are the first to have seen and worked through all three film programs. Having a set curriculum that staff knows and are comfortable working with allows them to dedicate themselves to using and expanding on the materials year after year. With an already packed list of initiatives teachers carry out during the school year, the CCT’s built-out lesson plans have made increased conversations about mental health possible. From an administrative perspective, Plymouth Schools loves that the Creative Coping Toolkit is a clear-cut intervention with tangible activities and structure that allows for thoughtful implementation in its schools’ communities. 

Before showing the films to the students, the district took advantage of iMPACTFUL’s Implementation Training hosted by our Engagement Team. These trainings briefly walk through the features of the Creative Coping Toolkit, while a majority of the time is used to brainstorm which resources within the CCT will best fit the needs of the community. Teachers also have the opportunity to ask questions about how other schools have leveraged the film programming. 

A main feature of the implementation training emphasizes teachers’ roles as facilitators, rather than experts in anxiety, bullying, or social media, and directs them to resources within the CCT to help support their facilitation role. We also encourage identifying points of contact as a means of extra support if necessary. 

Kelly mentions that the excitement among teachers was clear

“After the implementation training, teachers were asked to come up with one lesson using the chapter clips & discussions, classroom activities, and our lesson planning template. When following up, most teachers ended up planning out two, or three. I could see they saw value in the content within the CCT “ 

Each grade was introduced to the film in a grade-wide viewing, and then classroom discussions were held to promote deeper conversations with classmates and teachers they already know and have built trust with. Parents of students were notified about the screenings from the principal via email and were invited to explore the Creative Coping Toolkit themselves. This was made an easy task since the CCT has a single link that can be shared throughout the community. Throughout the rest of the school year, classrooms take opportunities to go through Chapter Clips and Discussions (around 1-5 minutes) or walk students through our SEL Activities.


Plymouth Public Schools now has a trusted, tested, and customized Tier 1 mental health resource aligned with SEL core competencies across its middle schools that could be replicated for other schools within the district. 

Each middle schooler and their families in the district have access to resources that support their mental wellness, which 85% of the district’s Angst viewers think is somewhat to extremely important for their school to address

The school district is often asked the overarching question of what are schools doing for mental health?, to which Kelly feels confident in referring to the film programs as, "clear-cut Tier 1 Intervention that allows us to supplement an already existing curriculum". 


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