Tagged “School Connectedness”

Sharing Ideas for Higher Achievement

Sanger Academy Charter School, Sanger, Calif.

As one in a trio of Sanger, California schools to be designated a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, Sanger Academy Charter School proves the efficacy of a commitment to quality education. Collaboration between Sanger Academy and its two sister schools—also designated as California Schools to Watch—can be seen on all levels, from middle school sports tournaments to monthly meetings between the three principals to share ideas and techniques.

Technology Guides Students to a Bright Future

Owl Creek School, Fayetteville, Ark.

Located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Owl Creek School joins a select group of Arkansas schools as a 2013 Diamond School to Watch with whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The Owl School promotes growth and achievement in its students through a strong commitment to technology-based instruction and a positive campus community. This supportive, in-school environment is bolstered by high levels of engagement with families and the local community through workshops; family activity nights; and a strong, involved Parent Teacher Organization.

A Common Message and Sense of Belonging

Renfro Elementary School, Collinsville, Ill.

Renfro Elementary School special education teacher Mary Anne Hempsted observes, "This school is the most welcoming place that I have ever worked. People respond to any need." Renfro's teachers and students connect through class meetings and the cross-grade level "families." Each family creates their own silent family greeting that they use whenever they encounter a "family member" in the halls. Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Renfro defines character to include thinking, feeling, and doing and takes a very comprehensive, intentional, proactive approach to character education. Carrie White, parent of a second grader and a kindergartner, praises the common language used at the school, which carries into the home, and observes that the words mean the same at school and at home. Entire classrooms of students are recognized for showing good character, not individuals. Third-grade teacher Carolyn Demaree says, "Every adult cares for the students in this school and holds them accountable."

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."

Supporting Disengaged Youth In and Beyond School

Albury Wodonga Community College, Wodonga, Victoria, Australia

Albury Wodonga Community College is an independent school for disengaged youth who face multiple barriers to learning and engagement in school. Since opening in 2006, the school has realized that it needs to provide both school and community level support for its students. The school is not solely focused on helping students finish school, but given the high number of students with mental health issues, is also committed to providing students with the knowledge and resources they require to cope with their issues. This includes knowledge of local support agencies and referral and links with community partners. Many students leave the school with the capacity to identify when they need support and know how to access it.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Albury Wodonga Community College has increased opportunities for students to successfully re-engage with education, established alternative pathways for student success, provided programs for young mothers, built facilities to assist with engagement with and connectedness to the school, and created stronger and more efficient community partnerships to support off-site classes along with a case worker to follow up with those students with extensive needs.

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.

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.

Looking Beyond the Horizons for Positive Change and Well-Being

St. Pius X College, Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia

St. Pius X College located in the northern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, aims to promote the spiritual, academic, social, cultural, and physical growth of its students. Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, the College seeks to engage students, staff, parents, and the community to look beyond the horizons of the "now" and to imagine and realize a better world where a positive difference can be made. St. Pius X College allows all students to experience successes as well as providing the challenge for the attainment of excellence.

After experiencing the death of a student in 2005, a firm commitment was made to promote the importance of positive mental health and well-being of all members of the school community. Today, St. Pius X College has a greater sense of connectedness between students, empowering them to take the initiative to seek out help for each other and themselves, if the need arises. Additionally, there is a greater level of acceptance of the notion that every person's mental health and well-being is important and, through structured and informal activities across the whole school, there is an improved and strengthened net of care and support within the College.

Strong Values Guide School Community to Success

Melrose High School, Pearce, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Melrose High School nurtures and values social and cultural learning abilities and styles. The inclusive environment provides students with a diverse range of learning opportunities with the goal of producing leaders and learners of the future. The school reinforces strong values which are based on "RESPECT:" Resources, Effort, Self, Peers, Environment, Community, Teachers. The values guide the school community in the way they conduct themselves. They also reinforce a safe and health-promoting environment which ensures that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Melrose High School is an outstanding and inclusive government school whose multicultural composition is reflected in the strong cultivation of students as global citizens. The school works closely with its local and extended community to provide a well-balanced and stimulating curriculum with strengths in academic, sporting, and cultural pursuits. Specialist learning facilities, a new gymnasium, and a wonderful array of sporting and recreational facilities enable students to enjoy the educationally stimulating environment and the friendship of a diverse student body.

Learning by Doing, Part of a Challenging Curriculum

Quest Early College High School, Humble, Tex.

A personalized and nurturing learning experience for all students is the foundational goal at Quest Early College High School—winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award—in Humble, Tex.

Through community partnerships and collaborations, students learn by doing by taking part in service learning, internships, and social actions that allow them to understand the relevance of what they learn. Students to take ownership of their own learning by designing their own physical fitness goals and activities, beginning college coursework that can earn them up to 60 college credits while in high school, and designing their own senior capstone research projects that reflect a social issue that has personal meaning.

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