Puyallup Press: December 14, 2021

The winter holidays are an opportunity for us to reconnect with others through giving. Giving comes in many forms, perhaps most traditionally this time of year is in the form of gifts. However, the gift of supporting our friends, family, and colleagues by contributing to their health and well-being is often the most appreciated of gifts.

In that same sense, we continue to focus on recovery efforts that support the ‘whole child.’ Our Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan provides a roadmap for recovery and acceleration of student learning. This three-year plan identifies staffing increases, health and safety enhancements, additional counseling and mental health services, summer learning opportunities, and more. Many of these enhancements support non-academic needs or resources to ensure students feel healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Traditionally, we’ve focused on academic measures like standardized test scores and graduation rates. Those performance outcomes are still important, but rather less emphasized during a time when our students need fulfillment of the heart. Social emotional learning, health and wellness, athletic programs, and visual/performing arts are just some of the ways we continue to supplement core learning and engage the ‘whole child.’

Stakeholder surveys will provide critical data to help measure student engagement, social emotional well-being, and learning circumstances so we can continue to offer opportunities for rigorous courses, work skill preparation, and higher education. The work that is being done now, will affect performance outcomes tomorrow.

It is this broader view of success that will enable each child, in every school, to excel. In my mind, that is the ultimate gift to share this holiday season.

In service and support,

Dr. John Polm