Project EVERS

Ending Violence and its Effects in Rural Schools

Project EVERS was developed to meet the needs of students living in rural areas in northwest Kansas that have been affected by trauma or violence in their homes and communities.

The five-year project serves 14 counties over 12,000 square miles through the Northwest Kansas Education Service Center (NKESC) headquartered in Oakley.

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The goal of the EVERS project is to help train and equip school staff to recognize and offer quality resources and referrals to address the fallout from any form of violence that may be affecting their students. EVERS works toward this goal by providing quality training, effective resources, and deliberate collaboration with important community partners. The long-term impact of EVERS is even greater: it will ensure improved opportunities for students and families alike to build life-long strengths-based skills and resiliency to reduce the impact of trauma, break the cycle of violence, and prepare students for life-long, violent-free academic and workforce success. 


  • expand partnerships to build relationships and engagement among educators, students and parents


  • Develop and support peer participation among:

    • educators

    • parents, guardians or caregivers

    • student & youth peers, and

    • collaboration among community service systems

  • establish pathways for student / families to receive mental health services and supports

    • expand partnerships to build relationships and engagement among educators, students and parents

Faculty and Staff

  • create a safe school climate

  • Leadership development opportunities for teachers and educators to address and develop knowledge and program expertise

  • Trained mentors

  • High quality, sustained professional development programs that support strengths-based programs and services


Lora Thomas

Director, Project EVERS

Lora’s background in education and experience in the mental health profession run parallel to Project EVERS.  She began her career teaching Head Start, but later moved away from formal education settings to focus on community-based organizations that impact and expand services for youth, families, and communities.  Lora served as a management consultant with Girl Scouts of the USA for seven years before becoming director of the National Runaway Switchboard for 11 years.  Most recently, Lora was executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Illinois and worked on contract with the Illinois Division of Mental Health.  She has also been a Graduation and Outcomes for Success for Out-of-School Youth (GOSOSY) consultant on mental health for the past three years. 

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Dan Thornton

Executive Director

Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center

Dan is the Executive Director of the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center located in Oakley, Kansas. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major emphasis in the Social Sciences and Business Education as well as a Master of Education Degree with an emphasis in Public School Administration. Dan served 13 years in Oklahoma as a teacher, building principal, and superintendent. After moving to Kansas, he served as a superintendent for seven years, and has been the Executive Director of the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center for more than 25 years.

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Mick Thornton

Trauma Specialist, Project EVERS

Mick has spent his career in service of rural communities. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Wichita State University and a Master of Divinity from Denver Seminary, Mick invested 12 years as the senior pastor of a church while also serving the community as a volunteer police chaplain and in other roles as well. Returning to his Western Kansas roots as a Trauma Specialist for Project EVERS aligns perfectly with his passion to serve the most vulnerable and often unseen members of rural communities and to equip compassionate and caring educators and community members with the tools to do the same.

Contact Us

703 W 2nd St, Oakley, KS 67748, USA

(785) 672-3125