Scanlan Center for School Mental Health
2022 Iowa BEST Summit audience
2023 Iowa BEST Summit
Join us in Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa Events Center
730 3rd Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Registration now closed

Creating a culture of caring for Iowa’s educators, students, classrooms, school communities, and families

Join more than 1,600 other education professionals, school mental health champions, and researchers from across the state for the 2023 Iowa BEST (Behavioral, Equitable, Social-Emotional, Trauma-Informed Health in Schools) Summit. This year’s theme is “Creating a Culture of Caring.”

The Summit is your destination for practical solutions around school-based social-emotional-behavioral health.

Come together to bolster mental health supports across our educational system, apply the latest research to address mental health holistically, develop innovative strategies to embed student and educator wellness into the learning environment, and strengthen system capacity for care.

*By registering for this event, you agree to be photographed or filmed for promotional purposes.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

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Who Should Attend?
  • PreK-12 teachers, school counselors, administrators, paraeducators, and school mental health providers

  • School district staff and leadership

  • Building leadership teams

  • Policymakers

  • AEA personnel supporting social-emotional-behavioral health and accelerating learning

  • AEA personnel supporting specific subgroups (e.g., special education, preschool, English learners)

  • University faculty who support preservice educators

  • University and college staff and faculty

  • Community partners including mental health providers, primary care physicians, Children’s Behavioral Health System Board members, and state medical association members

Why Should You Attend?
  • Take in the latest research, resources, and best practices to help activate and build mental wellness supports and capacity for your school, district, or region

  • Engage in deeper learning and knowledge sharing that leads to innovative solutions

  • Be a champion for school mental health systems change in your own school or community

  • Meet other colleagues and change-makers in the space

  • Learn and obtain CEUs (Participants can receive one Iowa Licensure Renewal Unit for attending the Summit and completing all readings and discussions)

1. Caring for Students (K-12) 

This strand will focus on increasing knowledge of common mental health concerns, best practices in addressing an array of mental health needs, and critical skills for appropriate responding to student mental health concerns. Learning outcomes for this strand will be to improve mental health literacy for educators, school administrators, and district leaders; clinical skills for school-based mental health providers; and effective strategies for coordinating and accessing school and community supports.  

2. Caring for Educators (K-12) 

This strand aims to provide educators, school administrators, and district leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to build healthy relationships and systems of wellness to support the well-being of everyone within a school community. The sessions in this strand will be focused on offering educators an opportunity to do the “inner work” of exploring how their life experiences have informed the development of their social, emotional, and behavioral skills – including self-awareness, social awareness, emotional regulation, and relationship skills. Building on this work, sessions in this strand will offer opportunities for educators to better understand holistic wellness, and how to utilize personal and professional wellness strengths to build up areas of growth. Finally, this strand will provide time, space, and guidance for educators to learn how to build effective peer-support networks.

3. Caring for Classrooms (K-12) 

This strand will focus on evidence-based practices for creating caring, positive, safe, and consistent classroom environments. Learning outcomes for this strand will be to increase the knowledge of educators as it relates to implementing classroom management practices; cultivating a sense of belonging; and linking practices to a schoolwide system.

4. Caring for School Communities and Families (K-12)

The sessions in this strand will be focused on offering educators opportunities to learn about research-based practices in supporting family and community engagement, collaboration with community stakeholders, and promoting wellness with those they serve. Building on this work, sessions in this strand will offer opportunities for educators to better understand how family and community wellness impacts the effectiveness of schools, how to engage families and communities through multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), and individual and systematic roles and responsibilities in promoting family and community wellness.  

5. Caring for Iowa University and College Campuses (Higher Education) 

This strand focuses on the fact that staff and faculty are busy enough, in ongoing turbulent times, managing the stress and distress in our own lives.  Despite this, we are called on moreso than ever to also help manage the stress and distress of students, colleagues, and supervisees. And while stress and distress often occupy our attention, it is equally vital to keep sight of where we all continue to flourish and thrive. The higher education strand features a plenary session from the Regent Universities and their work on creating “health-promoting campuses.”  There will also be multiple concurrent sessions with workshops focused on “caring for self” and focused on “caring for others,”  led by higher education experts from around the state. There will additionally be a roundtable opportunity for attendees to meet others from around the state to share struggles, successes, information, collaborative opportunities, and resources. Come be a part of this first-ever gathering of higher education mental health and wellbeing professionals as we gather to connect over campus mental health and wellbeing.


Experience next-level mental health awareness training at the highly anticipated pre-conference workshop – Imagine Iowa: Building Partners in Mental Health Training.

What is Imagine Iowa?

Imagine Iowa is a new evidence-informed, culturally responsive mental health awareness program, co-developed with Iowa youth, designed to support K-12 educators in improving their knowledge, skills, and attitudes about mental health.

This training is an essential tool for educators who want to support and improve their mental health knowledge and evidence-based applications in their classrooms and schools, as well as their own personal lives.

By the end of the training program, participants will be able to:

  • Utilize effective communication skills for broaching mental health with students in an approachable wayIdentify indicators and risk factors associated with a mental health crisis, including suicide, and how to respond appropriately
  • Identify strategies for building meaningful and sustainable relationships with students dealing with mental health concerns
  • Develop a personal wellness plan to maintain consistent self-care while navigating mental health situations at school/work

Participants will begin to explore these topics in-person and be provided with the opportunity to engage in continual learning via digital platforms, after in-person professional development, to become partners in school mental health.You will leave prepared to be an effective partner in mental health within your school community.

When and where? 

Who is eligible?

K-12 educators in Iowa (i.e., administrators, teachers, school counselors, school social workers, paraeducators, etc.) that have registered for the 2023 Iowa BEST Summit, October 5-6, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.


The Iowa School Mental Health Awards program celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to cultivating a positive mental health culture within an Iowa PreK-12 school, district, or AEA. The 2023 awards will be presented at the Iowa BEST Summit on Thursday, October 5 at 8:45 a.m.

The nomination period for the 2024 awards will open in Spring 2024. 

Iowa School Mental Health Hero

This award honors an educator or practitioner for their defining contribution to school mental health in Iowa. This individual has demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to expanding, promoting, and strengthening mental health and wellness supports within their school, district, or organization resulting in positive outcomes. The recipient of this award has been instrumental in helping students, educators, and/or school staff reach a heightened level of well-being (e.g., physical, mental, spiritual, and behavioral). To qualify for this award, nominees must be employed by one of Iowa’s PreK-12 schools, school districts, or AEAs during the 2022-23 school year.

Mental Health Influencer of the Year Student Award

This award tributes a visionary youth leader who lends their voice and talents to advancing mental health awareness and initiatives. This student’s efforts have influenced decision-makers or policymakers to expand mental health supports within their school, district, region, or state. To qualify for this award, nominees must be enrolled in one of Iowa’s PreK-12 schools during the 2022-23 school year.

Exhibitor Directory
Baker Teacher Leader Center
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Care Solace
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Challenge to Change
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Classroom Clinic
EveryStep Grief & Loss Services
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Grand Canyon University
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I'm Glad You Stayed Project
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Iowa's Area Education Agencies
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Iowa Association for Play Therapy
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Iowa Healthiest State Initiative
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Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates (iJAG)
Iowa School Counselor Association logo
Iowa School Counselor Association
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Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services - My Life, My Quit
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Oasis Mental Health Applications
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Orchard Place
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Pause for Empowerment
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Tanager-Meraki Institute of Learning
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Exhibitor Directory
University of Iowa College of Education
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University of Iowa School of Social Work
Upper Iowa University logo
Upper Iowa University
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Welltrack Connect
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Your Life Iowa
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YSS- Ember Recovery

Participants can receive one Iowa Licensure Renewal Unit (ILRU) for attending the Summit and completing all readings and discussions via the online course platform through the Baker Teacher Leader Center. To receive ILRU credit:

1) Register for the 2023 Iowa BEST Summit.

2) Complete this additional registration and click “Enroll”.

Course Requirements: Attend both days of the Summit and engage with the learning materials (complete readings and discussions) via the online course platform through the Scanlan Center for School Mental Health and the Baker Teacher Leader Center. You will need to attend a presentation or workshop for each session of the Summit. In addition to each session, you will be asked to share what you learned and how you will apply this learning to your practice. There will also be 2-3 brief surveys related to the quality of the education you receive.

Course Materials: All course material will be provided via the online course platform you will access after you register for the conference and the course. You will receive an email (sent to the address you used to register for the credit) inviting you to the online course platform.

If you have questions about IRLU registration, please contact Mariana Colombo at

Hilton Des Moines Downtown

(0.2 miles from Iowa Events Center; attached to the Events Center by skywalk)

  • 435 Park St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-241-1456

Fairfield Inn and Suites

(0.3 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 207 Crocker St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-350-7997

Renaissance Des Moines Savery

(0.4 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 401 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-244-2151

Holiday Inn Des Moines DTWN – Mercy Area

(0.4 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 1050 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314
  • 515-283-0151

Comfort Inn & Suites Event Center

(0.5 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 929 3rd St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-282-5251

Iowa Best Summit Reservation Link (Special Discount for Iowa Educators)

The link expires on the morning of September 11th at 12AM, any rooms not used will go back out to public sell and rate cannot be guaranteed after that date.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Des Moines Downtown

(0.5 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 101 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-244-1700

Staybridge Suites Des Moines Downtown

(0.6 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 201 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-280-3828

Hyatt Place Des Moines/Downtown

(0.6 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 418 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-282-5555

AC Hotel Des Moines East Village

(0.7 miles from Iowa Events Center)

  • 401 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
  • 515-518-6060
Glimpse from Last Year