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Atlanta, GA (04/02/2016)—ASCD announced today that Jason Lee Middle School of Tacoma, Wash., is the 2016 recipient of the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. On behalf of her school, Principal Christine Brandt accepted the award from Deborah S. Delisle, ASCD Executive Director and CEO, on stage during the opening general session of the 71st ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show.
“ASCD is delighted to present Jason Lee Middle School of Tacoma Public Schools with the 2016 Vision in Action award,” said Delisle. “The school’s admirable commitment to the whole child has driven the creation of a truly inclusive and supportive learning environment and has led to proven results for the students in its care. I commend Principal Brandt and all members of Jason Lee’s staff for their dedication to ensuring each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Their hard work stems from their deep care for every student.”
Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award is designed to recognize schools that that have changed the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the development of the whole child. Vision in Action schools have moved beyond just a vision for educating the whole child to actions that result in 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.
Jason Lee, which serves 584 students from grades 6–8, has a staff of two administrators, two school counselors, 45 teachers, and 20 support personnel. Nineteen percent of the students qualify for special education services and 69 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Supporting Student Transitions
One of the many areas in which Jason Lee excels is in supporting students entering middle school and preparing them for what comes next. Incoming 6th graders attend a four-day orientation camp in August where they are connected with 7th and 8th grade student mentors. These older students provide guidance to their mentees throughout the year, modeling a safe, responsible, compassionate, and respectful Bobcat (the school’s mascot) to align with the school’s whole child pillars. The incoming 6th graders engage in icebreaker games to build relationships with one another, learn about school expectations, familiarize themselves with school grounds, and much more.
To prepare students for life beyond Jason Lee, the school uses the college preparatory system Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID®) to align teaching strategies across the school. These strategies are focused on writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading. The school creates excitement around college preparation by displaying college pennants and having students develop their own pennant each year to show their college of choice, dream career, and personal mission statement.
“Our vision and actions at Jason Lee Middle School are driven by teacher leadership, student voice, and community partnerships to help students become respectful, responsible, compassionate, and safe community members through academic and social-emotional support systems within our school,” said Brandt.
Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
Jason Lee takes the diverse needs of its multicultural student body seriously. Through professional development, teacher leadership has formed a culturally relevant committee that meets each month and sends staff newsletters—which include scholarly readings and evidence-based practices and strategies—to support growth in cultural responsiveness. As a result, students and teachers alike feel that Jason Lee is a safe environment to take risks, learn, and grow.
To support additional student needs, the school employs two full-time counselors, a psychologist, and an in-school coaching interventionist for students struggling with executive functions and emotional intelligence. The school also provides access to mental health services on-site through a community partner. The counselors implement lunch groups focused on self-management, dealing with loss and grief, trauma-induced situations, and peer relationship building.
Proven Results for the Whole Child
Recent evaluations have demonstrated Jason Lee’s impressive gains in student success, both academic and otherwise. After just one year of implementing the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative, the school has seen a 21 percent decrease in unexcused absences along with increases in the number of students who pass various subjects: a 26 percent increase in reading, a 30 percent increase in math, a 19 percent increase in writing, and a 28 percent increase in science.
Research from the Center for Educational Effectiveness and the Baker Evaluation Research Consulting groups shows improvements in important skills and characteristics, such as high levels of collaboration and communication, high standards and expectations for all students, effective school leadership, and increased family and community involvement. In addition, students are demonstrating their depth of conceptual knowledge, engaging in self-reflection, and improving interpersonal interactions—all of which reflect a well-rounded learning environment.
“Jason Lee exemplifies our entire community’s relentless commitment to the whole child. Through committed partnerships, we strive to ensure every child is engaged and supported during and outside school,” said Carla Santorno, superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools. “The staff team members are committed data analysts who use this information to provide targeted opportunities to ensure every student is safe, healthy, and challenged. Jason Lee has truly moved a whole child vision into its daily actions for every student every day.”
Schools throughout North America submitted applications for Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Five faculty members from the winning school are guests at the 71st ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Atlanta and will be featured on an upcoming Whole Child Podcast. ASCD will continue to share Jason Lee’s expertise and exemplary practices with its 125,000 members and the larger education community.
For more information about ASCD’s Whole Child approach to education, visit www.ascd.org/wholechild. You can also find out more about ASCD's other programs, products, services, and memberships at www.ascd.org.
Ross Romano, publicist, 1-703-575-5607 or by e-mail.
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