Klea Scharberg

What Do Your Students Need?

Students as learners are also students as people, with hopes, fears, and needs. That's why it's so important to build adult-student relationships that support and encourage each student's academic and personal growth. The frequency and perceived worth of interaction (PDF) with faculty, staff, and other students is one of the strongest predictors not only of student persistence but also of student learning.

The winner of the 2012 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award, Byrne Creek Secondary School in Burnaby, British Columbia, is built on the concept of interaction within the school and larger community. Byrne Creek serves as a community hub (PDF), providing a supportive education community where children and families can receive support and the larger community, in turn, can provide support to those in need. Principal David Rawnsley believes the school's success is a result of passionate staff who genuinely care for their students and recognize that their roles are pivotal to students' success.

Whether your community is focusing on changes inside the school system (such as bringing health and other services into the school setting) or working to bring about broader neighborhood and community change, these guiding principles (PDF) can provide a foundation and direction:

  • Focus on results and outcomes for children.
  • Recognize that schools can't do it alone. Schools need to partner with other services and organizations and with the broader community.
  • Focus on systems change. Build on pockets of success to develop a community-wide system of success.
  • Recognize that internal school capacity-building is essential to successful systems change.
  • Integrate or align services vertically (within sectors) and horizontally (across sectors).
  • Embrace flexibility, innovation, and risk.
  • Transition from a focus on filling gaps to a focus on systems working together to free up and align resources for services.

In April, we took a look at envisioning, building, and sustaining a supportive education community in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast episode featuring staff from Byrne Creek and the Burnaby school district and read the Whole Child Blog to learn more about the school's story and programs.

Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

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