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This episode of the Whole Child Podcast was recorded live at ASCD's Annual Conference on March 7, 2010, and features the winning school of the first-ever Vision in Action: The Whole Child Award, the University of Northern Iowa’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School (PLS) in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The award recognizes schools that move beyond a narrow focus on academic achievement to take action for the whole child, creating learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.
PLS, a prekindergarten through 12th grade public school with a diverse population of 369 students, is located on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). As part of UNI's College of Education, the school is a setting for clinical teacher education and research at the prekindergarten through high school levels and conducts professional development for its own faculty and for faculty at schools across the state. PLS was selected as ASCD's first Vision in Action award winner because it has demonstrated significant success in each area of educating the whole child.
You'll hear PLS director Bridgette Wagoner and guidance counselor Clare Struck share the practices, programs, and policies that transformed the conditions of teaching and learning at PLS, such as the following:
- All K–10 students at PLS participate in daily physical education classes and a weekly health program that ultimately prepares juniors and seniors for a Healthy Active Lifestyles course that empowers them to take responsibility for their own health and fitness via real-world experiences.
- PLS's comprehensive school counseling program has created a physically and emotionally safe environment for its students with an emphasis on character education. Students are deliberately taught about their right to be who they are and their responsibility to respect others. The school's counselors have instituted a bully prevention program—Be a Buddy, Not a Bully!—for its elementary students that has been adopted by schools worldwide.
- Price Laboratory School recently began engaging its students through project-based learning that allows them to focus on topics of their choosing. During the January term, 11th grade projects included hosting a radio talk show, participating in service learning, investigating string theory, and job shadowing.
- All 6–12 students at PLS participate in cooperative advisory groups that meet daily at the middle school level and at least twice a month at the high school level. Advisors function as "school parents" who advocate for and mentor their assigned students.
- Every child at PLS participates in a college preparatory curriculum and is held to the highest expectations. To prepare students for postsecondary success, the school's Juniors/Seniors Options Program provides students with multiple pathways and flexible scheduling so they can personalize their curriculum and plan for the future. Some of the options students can choose from are dual enrollment university courses, individualized study, internships with local businesses, cadet teaching, and senior projects.
Congratulations to PLS and its students! Learn more.