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Middle Grades

Family Atmosphere Fosters Sense of Belonging

Imagine Schools South Lake, Clermont, Fla.

Despite being one of the largest of the more than 70 Imagine Schools campuses, Imagine South Lake feels like a "family" school. Each day, students are greeted by the principal (who knows everyone by name), other administrators, teachers, parents, and student safety patrols. Teacher turnover is minimal, and the re-enrollment rate is above 95 percent. When speaking of her schoolmates and teachers, fourth grader India says, "They are my family." Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Imagine South Lake's staff students, and parents live the core values. Staff members incorporate character within the classroom in ways that best meet the needs of their students and reflect the school's mission statement. Middle school language-arts teacher Joyce Crawford notes that "being here at Imagine means you have a voice;" all classrooms have meetings where students' "voice and choice" is heard and appreciated. Teachers care about the students academically, socially, and emotionally. Fourth grader Eliya states that the teachers "don’t want us to fail. They teach us how to learn from our mistakes."

Nurturing Confidence, Compassion, and Personal Excellence in Students

Corpus Christi College, Bateman, Western Australia

Corpus Christi College is a co-educational high school of nearly 1,200 students located just south of Perth. The school provides a modern, exciting, and forward-thinking education experience for students, nurturing confidence, compassion, and personal excellence. The school is committed to educating young people to serve as school and community leaders and students are prepared to become life-long learners and global citizens.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Corpus Christi College has established a functional school-based core health and well-being team with clear processes and roles to support their work. The school has increased the number of trained staff and the range of professional development opportunities available to support staff wellness. Students are encouraged to take proactive leadership roles in mental health and well-being initiatives and mental health and resilience themes are integrated throughout the curriculum and extracurricular activities. Parent, family, and community involvement has expanded with regular parent information forums and direct links with community mental health services.

High School Shows Strength in Unity

Balga Senior High School, Balga, Western Australia

Balga Senior High School is located in a northern suburb of Perth, a metropolitan area that is culturally diverse. The school has strong pastoral care programs that address the social and emotional needs of students. The school motto, "Strength in Unity," implies that cooperation is the key to providing a happy and pleasant environment in which all can strive for excellence in their educational pursuits.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, staff at Balga Senior High School are a vibrant and active team committed to ensuring that all students feel safe in a supportive environment and that the students' social, emotional, and physical needs are met. The school is a leader in connecting with the local community and has built relationships with many community organizations, including The Smith Family, North Migrant Resource Centre, and the Youth on Health Festival, Western Australia's largest youth performing and visual arts festival. Students participate in the festival annually. Student spirit groups provide practical opportunities for student voice in school thinking and activities and promote tolerance of differences through extra-curricular activities.

Mentor Teachers Build Relationships and Personalize Learning

Castlemaine Secondary College, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Castlemaine Secondary College serves 760 students and is located 120 kilometers northwest of Melbourne. The school recently dedicated itself to improving relationships between all members of the school community, improving the personalization of student learning, and developing the school's community partnerships. This has in turn resulted in the school developing the capacity of all teaching staff to be teachers of well-being. The introduction of a new pastoral care structure, including small small mentor groups, has also aided in improving relationships and the personalization of student learning. In addition all teaching staff have become mentors, and they have a key role in serving as the first point of contact for parents and other teachers whenever there are any concerns about students in their groups.

Building a Positive School Culture for Diverse Students

Woodville High School, Woodville, South Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Woodville High School has a complex and diverse student population with students coming from 56 cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In 2010, 12 percent of students were identified as students with disabilities, 51 percent as English language learners, and nearly 40 percent are from non English-speaking backgrounds.

Recently well-being became a key focus of at Woodville High School and was incorporated into the site learning plan. Since then, the school has developed initiatives on youth empowerment, building relationships, as well as a "no blame" and a restorative approach to behavior management. School policies have been revised and new procedures around bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, have been developed. Staff are more confident and have the resources to address a range of mental health concerns and mentoring, parent, and community programs have been established.

Well-Being Teams Ensure Support for Students

Victor Harbor High School, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Victor Harbor High School is the only government high school on the south coast of South Australia. The school uses a distributive leadership model across the school and has developed a whole school approach to pastoral care. Well-being teams meets regularly throughout each term and smaller student support teams meet on a regular basis to help with identification and case management of students experiencing high support needs. The school has been able to promote well-being across the school, increase levels of student-staff connectedness, document an increase in positive relationships between students, and practice a more holistic approach to case managing individual students.

A Whole School Approach to Well-Being

Nazareth Catholic College, Findon, South Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Nazareth Catholic College is a secondary school situated in Adelaide's western suburbs. The school caters for students from diverse cultural backgrounds and offers flexible learning programs to accommodate individual needs. A strong commitment to a whole school approach to well-being and social-emotional learning is a key component of its vision. As a result, staff and students have increased their awareness of mental health and well-being, and mental health difficulties are being demystified through deeper understanding. The school environment has become more inclusive and connected; there has been a significant decrease in incidents of bullying and harassment; and mentor groups provide forums for all students to comfortably express themselves and teachers recognize the importance of forming positive relationships with all students in the group.

Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Student Body

Coombabah State High School, Coombabah, Queensland, Australia

Coombabah State High School was established in 1986 as the community high school for the northern suburbs of the Gold Coast, serving students from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds. The student population has a high degree of mobility and this transient factor contributes to the increasing challenge for teachers to provide challenging and meaningful learning opportunities—at least 30 per cent of the student body is new to the school each year. The school offers many vocational education subjects ranging from hospitality, business, child care, multimedia, and health, to community and recreation. Students can also select from a vast range of academic subjects.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Coombabah State High School has been able to develop a supportive environment for all students and staff. For example, all year 8 teachers meet with student support teams, the head of the middle school, and outside personnel, including a mental health expert to identify at-risk students. Teachers are trained to quickly identify students who they feel are experiencing difficulties in the classroom in relation to coping skills, content, and social issues. The students are then interviewed and individual programs are developed to assist in the areas of concern.

Strong Community Connectedness Builds Confidence

Clayfield College, Clayfield, Queensland, Australia

Clayfield College is a preK–12 day and boarding school located in the Brisbane suburbs that offers a safe and supportive learning environment, where personal excellence is encouraged. Students come from diverse cultural backgrounds, have varied ability levels, and receive quality teaching and learning within a broad and engaging curriculum, including academic and vocational pathways. Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, students experience a strong feeling of belonging to the community and, through participation in activities, build greater confidence and develop and strengthen relationships; staff feel respected and valued; and parents, families, and members of the community are viewed as vital pieces of the jigsaw.

Respecting and Valuing All Members of the Community

Kormilda College, Berrimah, Northern Territory, Australia

Kormilda College is an independent, coeducational, multicultural, day and residential secondary school serving the people of Northern Australia. The College was founded by the Northern Territory Government in 1967 to provide Aboriginal students living in isolated locations with access to secondary and further education. Kormilda College has grow into a vibrant multicultural learning community, with an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students, the majority of whom are day students from the greater Darwin area.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, the school has adopted a whole-school approach to pastoral care. Outcomes have included increased levels of resilience, more effective communication, mapping and managing mental health, promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity, and preventing harassment and bullying. The ultimate outcome is a positive school community, where all members are valued and respected.

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