Kristen Pekarek

Strong Relationships Are Key

Strong Relationships Are Key - Whole Child Blog

Relationships have not only proven to be good for our physical health, but our spiritual and emotional health as well. It is through relationships with other human beings that we grow and evolve, as well as deepen and expand our love and meaning in life. As many of you are aware, today is Valentine's Day. Whether or not you like this holiday, it comes each year to provide time for each of us to reflect on and grow our personal and professional relationships.

In schools a strong relationship means building sturdy supportive foundations and committed partnerships to care for the well-being of students, staff, and the greater community. A whole child approach to education—which ensures students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—remains a sustainable approach through the development of these strong, healthy relationships; whether it be student-teacher, school-community, or peer-to-peer relationships—just to name a few.

Today as we reflect on our Whole Child Partner relationships, we encourage you to also look back and reflect on your individual school and partner connections. Below we've compiled a number of examples, blogs, and podcasts to provide a little inspiration and shed more light on the importance of school relationships.

Whole Child Examples

  • This Institute for Learning Knows What It Means to Engage the Community
    Segue Institute for Learning received the 2014 Rhode Island ASCD Whole Child Award for its work to engage the community in all aspects of its programs. The school has exemplified what it means to engage the community by embracing the involvement of its community partners and families to help support their students. Furthermore, they support their students through student-driven advisories that revolve around culturally competent and engaging activities.
  • Resource Center Unites School and Families in the Pursuit of a Successful Future
    Located in Vancouver, Washington, McLoughlin strives to connect with its students and their families on multiple levels. The school's family community resource center serves as a central access point for the numerous support services offered in the area, from free school supplies to dental care. In 2013 McLoughlin Middle School joined other top Washington schools in receiving the Supported Students Award from Washington State ASCD.
  • Central Kentucky School Proves the Importance of Community
    Whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform has named Royal Spring Middle School as one of its Kentucky Schools to Watch. Located in Georgetown, Kentucky, Royal Spring is the first central Kentucky school to be awarded this title. The school's success can be largely attributed to the close bonds between the school and the local community, as well as the dedication of students, staff, and parents to the school's daily proceedings.

Whole Child Blog Posts

  • "Getting Local Communities Involved in Schools Helps Students Succeed" by Kristen Pekarek
    Family and community engagement is vital to creating successful schools and communities. To highlight their importance, we've compiled a number of whole child examples that showcase the successes of school-community partnerships.
  • "Closing the Gaps Between Learners Through Relationships" by ASCD Leaders
    Given the trends shaping the future of education, what do you see as your opportunities to support learning through the whole child approach? ASCD leaders recently responded to this question and share their ideas about closing the gaps between learners.
  • "Learning Compacts Between Schools and Families" by Klea Scharberg
    This video-based workshop from the Connecticut Department of Education shows how to design school-parent partnerships tied to your improvement plan.

Whole Child Podcast Episodes

  • Personalized Learning Starts with Personal Relationships
    How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. In this episode, we take a look at personalizing learning on the ground and in schools and the importance of relationships in activating students to take charge of their learning.
  • Coordinated and Collaborative Responses to Diverse Student Needs
    Essential to student success is access to personalized learning and support from qualified, caring adults. Students as learners are also students as people with social-emotional, physical, and mental health needs. Supportive education communities are places where school staff, community-based service providers, families, and all the adult stakeholders work together to identify and address kids' needs and provide a coordinated, whole child approach to their education and development. In this episode, we discuss envisioning, building, and sustaining a supportive education community, in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, with leaders from the 2012 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award-winning Byrne Creek Secondary School.
  • Partnerships Between Home and School: The Real Missing Link?
    Families are a central source of children's learning and development, and their influence cannot be ignored. Engaging with families can inform, complement, reinforce, and accelerate educators' efforts to educate the whole child. Without strategic and continual connections between families and educators, we cannot ensure that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. In this episode, we examine research that overwhelmingly reinforces the need for family engagement, practices that create and sustain meaningful involvement, policies that can bring about systemic change, and barriers that we must overcome to achieve this vision.


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