Tagged “Parent And Family Engagement”

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.

A Welcoming Community Provides a Safe and Inclusive Learning Environment

Guilford Young College, Glenorchy, Tasmania, Australia

Guilford Young College is a co-educational senior secondary school in Tasmania. The school prides itself on acknowledging the whole person, encourages achievement, participation, and service and commits itself to the development of lifelong learning and the respect for self and others. It is a welcoming, compassionate community that provides a safe and inclusive learning environment for all.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Guilford Young College has increased its knowledge and understanding of mental health and further embedded the importance of a whole school approach to health and well-being. Responsibility and leadership has been broadly distributed across the staff and a parent group provides an open and non-threatening forum for parents to raise their concerns about student well-being, to provide feedback on school policies that impact on students and families, and to provide expert input on mental health and social pressures for young people.

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.

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.

School Organizes to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Wagga Wagga Christian College, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Wagga Wagga Christian College is a coeducational K–12 school which fosters a family environment that develops responsibility and trust between peers and multi-aged young people. In 2007, the faculty determined the need to develop a welfare system to be proactive and responsive, not reactive. As a result the school has refined its transition programs, building stronger links with parents and the community beyond the school; expanded its student leadership program, empowering students at all levels of leadership; and implemented resilience programs, highlighting the safe use of social networks, cyberbullying, and sex education and relationships. Feedback is sought at parent association meetings about the mental health and well-being programs that could be implemented for students and parents.

Responding to Individual Student Needs Brings Success

Lake Macquarie High School, Booragul, New South Wales, Australia

Lake Macquarie High School is a small school on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia. Student welfare underpins the school's success and values of tolerance, understanding, responsibility, caring, respect, and cooperation are part of the school culture. An outstanding feature of the school is the experienced and dedicated teachers who deliver effective pastoral care programs that reinforce positive behaviors. Teachers regularly participate in training and development to support the school's commitment to excellence.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Lake Macquarie High School has used the framework to become more flexible in its approach to individual student needs. Resources and training are used to extend knowledge and perceptions around mental health issues and, as a result, students and parents are receiving personalized guidance and assistance on issues including self-harm, depression, eating disorders, and grief and loss.

Community School Provides Easy Access to Host of Services

Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio

A recipient of the 2011 National Community Schools Award for Excellence from whole child partner the Coalition for Community Schools, Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the true spotlight of its community.

Focused on strengthening the seamless integration of academic and nonacademic partnerships, the school provides easy access to a host of services through its Community Learning Center, where partners and community and family members are able to play a vital role in students' success. Forty-two percent more of students are scoring proficient or higher on the Ohio Achievement Assessment, and community volunteers have increased by over 100 percent—a true testament to the excellence in academics and infectious dedication Ethel M. Taylor Academy inspires.

Elementary School Structures for Success

Wenonah Elementary School, Waynesboro, Va.

Wenonah Elementary School in Waynesboro, Va., structures its student and adult interactions to ensure success. The school uses tiered Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies, shared professional planning time, a 30-minute daily enrichment/intervention period for all students to ensure that each student is successful, and technology-based methods to provide a rigorous curriculum that enhances 21st century learning. By 5th grade, students complete the majority of their core content class work electronically and are engaging with the global community online.

Grade-level teams meet weekly with an instructional coach and monthly with the principal to discuss student needs, instructional strategies and assessments, and professional development needs to support strong instruction. School-based specialists, community partners, and volunteers do their part too to provide one-to-one academic, behavioral, and emotional support to students and their families.

It Takes a Village

Westside Village Magnet School, Bend, Ore.

One of the key factors that strengthens student, staff, and family engagement at Westside Village Magnet School, in Bend, Ore., is relationships. At Westside Village Magnet School, all stakeholders are endowed with a sense of belonging and find space to collaborate to support an inclusive and democratic learning environment that meets the individual needs of each child.

With a well-rounded, hands-on curriculum that is integrated with the arts, health and wellness, civics, and outdoor "adventure learning," students not only have overwhelmingly achieved high test scores, but they have also learned to be self-advocates for their learning needs.

For example, West Village students' passions and personal learning goals are integrated into the curriculum. One year, students learned about environmental and social issues, then held a community fair on sustainability where they presented various community-wide projects, ranging from teaching water conservation to holding a Pennies for Peace drive. Some students still continue working on these projects long term, and local organizations have asked them to participate in their own outreach efforts.

Addressing the Diverse Needs of Youth

Aberdeen, S.Dak.

From parent–child relationships to healthy eating habits to academic success, Aberdeen, S.Dak., is dedicated to providing its youth with a multitude of opportunities and services to ensure their future well-being and success.

At-risk youth can always rely on the New Beginnings Center to provide care, supervision, and treatment for abuse or mental health difficulties, while the Almost Home Program provides transitional living. Kids Konnection is a program designed to promote and maintain positive interactions with significant adults in children's lives, and Activate Aberdeen strives to tackle childhood obesity through a weight reeducation program.

Academically, students always have support as they strive for success: throughout high school, each student has a personal advocate who provides personalized attention. Because of its immense dedication to all aspects of the youth population, Aberdeen was also recognized by whole child partner America's Promise Alliance in the 100 Best Communities for Young People.

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