Friday, Feb. 10, 2017

 What Do We Mean by the Whole Child?   
"We know deeply, as educators and as parents, that our focus on our children's academic growth can never be, and should never be, separated from our focus on their growth as whole kids."  
 
Dear DPS Community,
Supt. Tom Boasberg
 
This week, I had the privilege of listening to hundreds of parents who came together for our monthly Superintendent Parent Forum on a topic that's getting a lot of attention: Whole Child.
 
But what do we mean by that? And why is support for the whole child one of the top five goals in our strategic plan, the Denver Plan 2020?
 
When we developed the Denver Plan with our community, we brought together parents, educators and experts to help define this term. And we agreed that there are six components that make up our goal of the Whole Child:
  • Students who are socially and emotionally intelligent.
  • Students who practice a healthy lifestyle.
  • Students who are supported by caring adults.
  • Students who are engaged in learning.
  • Students who feel physically and emotionally safe in school.
  • Students who are challenged to perform at their highest level.
We know deeply, as educators and as parents, that our focus on our children's academic growth can never be, and should never be, separated from our focus on their growth as whole kids. That is why last year we were one of the first districts in the country to initiate a whole child survey where all of our students responded to how they and we are doing in each of the six areas of whole child focus above. You can see the results for all our schools here
 
Students sharing smiles at Eagleton Elementary
"If our kids are not socially supported and trust in the strong relationships they have at school, they can't succeed," Berla Alvarado, the mother of an eighth-grader at Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College, said at the forum. "It means an awful lot that you guys are listening."
 
Our teachers and school leaders, those closest to our kids, have identified social and emotional supports as our kids' greatest need. That's why the single largest investment in the 2016 mill levy measure approved by Denver voters focuses on the social and emotional, and mental and physical health of our kids.
 
All schools are receiving additional funding to focus on whole child needs, with special attention to our youngest students and those in poverty.  
 
"We can't control what happens in a student's home or community, but the supports we provide children at school can make all the difference," Amesse Elementary Principal Charmaine Keaton said, adding, "School saved my life."
 
I encourage you to learn more about our work in this area by exploring wholechild.dpsk12.org. Additional information about what we're doing to meet this Denver Plan goal is available in this handout. And there's more about how the 2016 mill levy is supporting the whole child here.
   
Best,
Tom

Photo caption:Supporting the whole child is a priority at all of our schools, including at Carson Elementary.
2016 Bond and Mill Levy Update: Read All About It!

Denver voters in November approved $56.6 million in mill levy funding and $572 million in bond dollars to benefit our kids, our educators and our schools. Here's an update:
 
Mill Levy
Learn more about how these funds are being invested to support our students in these one-page handouts:
Bond
Since the passage of the bond, our construction team has worked to schedule the projects over the four-year term of the bond. With so many needs and relatively short construction windows due to academic calendars and Colorado weather, here's how we're prioritizing our more than 1,000 unique projects:
  • Projects addressing risks to health, safety and security, as well as critical enrollment or learning environment needs -- such as heating and cooling -- have been scheduled earlier.
  • Prioritizing projects at our highest-needs schools.
  • Ensuring that every region sees improvements.  
You can find more information on scheduling principles and a project-by-project summary in this presentation . And you can find a summary of work by school and facility in this document.
Appreciating Our School Counselors
 
Every morning, school counselor Alexandra Papa checks in with her students: "On a scale of one to 10, how are you feeling?" she asks.
 
The check-in is so much more than a quick "How are you?" though -- they're an intentional effort to understand a student's social and emotional well-being.

"These kids are so resilient," said Papa, a school counselor at Oakland Elementary, located in the Montbello neighborhood. Papa says the school is a lifeline for many families living in poverty, providing students with occasional donations of canned food, mental health resources and other supports.
 
"It's great to have a hub for the community, [especially when] families come in and say, 'Oh my gosh, we are really struggling right now,'" said Papa. "These resources and supports are things families might not otherwise have."
 
In honor of National School Counselor Week 2017, watch our DPS Features video highlighting how school counselors support the Whole Child and ensure Every Child Succeeds, every day.
DPS Hosts Denver's Acting Mexican General Consul
Supt. Tom Boasberg and Acting Consul General 
Jeremias Guzman
On Thursday, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Acting Consul General Jeremias Guzman met to discuss ways that they can continue to collaborate to support Denver's youth. This long-standing relationship is rooted in the goal of ensuring all children have access to a high-quality education.

"Thank you for supporting Mexican and Mexican-American families," Guzman said. "We are grateful that the schools in Denver are safe spaces for students."

The Consulate has donated 25,000 Spanish books to DPS families, which has enabled Spanish-speaking parents to work with their student at home on developing their literacy skills.

DPS and the Mexican Consulate often partner to ensure families are informed and feel supported. The Consulate has helped fund initiatives such as Plazas Comunitarias -- a bilingual adult-education program housed inside two DPS campuses -- and an educational opportunities information booth inside the Denver Mexican Consulate.

"If there is an opportunity for us to come together around a shared set of values, now is the time," Boasberg said.

Listen to interviews with EDUCA and Denver Mexican Consulate representatives on educadps.org.
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