Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award
Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award is designed to recognize schools that have gone beyond 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. This award acknowledges those schools 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: a child who is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
2013 Vision in Action: The Whole Child Award Recipient
Milwaukie High School
Milwaukie High School was selected as ASCD's 2013 Vision in Action award winner because it has taken specific steps to ensure that high school students from all backgrounds are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Located just south of Portland, Milwaukie High School educates 1,330 students in grades 9–12 and has partnered with over 11 community organizations and agencies support its students. It is an example of what can happen when schools and the communities partner and commit to a whole child approach to education.
Academically, Milwaukie High challenges each student through all levels of rigorous instruction and participation in curriculum. Education is personalized for students in the path they may choose to follow after high school. At the core of the Milwaukie High program is to make students college ready when they graduate. Not all students will go to the university, but all students need to be able to read, write and think critically; to be able to problem solve; and to be able to work with others in team situations.
Incoming students' reading and math proficiency are assessed by trained staff and additional supplementary reading and math courses are provided as needed. Also, teams of staff meet once a week with a group of school counselors, mental and physical health providers, social workers, and administrators to discuss ways to support at-risk students. During these meetings, participants collaborate to build individual intervention plans for these students, which can include academic support, mental or physical health care, or other social services. After implementing these initiatives, the school has seen improvements in reading and math achievement in participating students, and its graduation rate has steadily improved beyond Oregon State's average.
The Milwaukie High School staff's dedication to the needs of the whole child was demonstrated by their focus on professional development that supported the concept of equity in action during the 2011–12 school year. The staff's school wide commitment to safety began by addressing social justice and equity issues. School personnel have participated in an equity training program called “Taking it Up,” and the school administrative team will attended a five-day equity training event as well.
To further support professional development goals, the school's administrative team formed an Instructional Leaders Team made up of teacher leaders and administrators that meets regularly to guide training that supports teaching and improving student engagement and individualized instruction. The team uses peer observation and feedback as a key component of professional development, and staff members are encouraged to visit their fellow teachers' classrooms to observe instructional mastery techniques.
The work of the entire staff is a tribute to the vocation of education. Their commitment to our profession, and their students to high expectations, and relentless care for the whole child, the whole adolescent before them, calls each of us to our own highest performance.
To learn more about Milwaukie High School and its approach to a whole child education, read the press release.