Denver Public Schools (DPS) is committed to providing equitable and inclusive environments where students are Healthy, Supported, Engaged, Challenged, Safe, and Socially and Emotionally Intelligent. DPS is leading the nation in focusing this level of effort and attention around Whole Child supports because DPS knows– and research shows – it will not only improve academic outcomes, but is critical to achieving our vision that Every Child Succeeds.
As part of the 2020-21 DPS recognition cycle, Denver Center for International Studies has been named a Whole Child Distinguished School, demonstrating excellence in supporting students beyond academics.
Each year, the teachers and special service providers at ten schools may receive the Distinguished Schools Incentive for their work around the whole child.
The ProComp Implementation team, comprised of district and DCTA members, designates winners of the award each year using the following measures:
At Denver Center for International Studies at Fairmont we believe in challenging the dominant narrative that schools exist to narrowly focus on academic achievement. We believe that the purpose of school is to educate the whole child by preparing students to not only be knowledgeable but also emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, and have a deep sense of self and understanding of their community and world. We also believe that to do this we need teams of teachers in inclusive classrooms where students of all different abilities and backgrounds work together in models that support developing collaboration, communication and social emotional intelligence.
Our mission is to prepare students to lead in their community and their world and we aim to achieve this vision through a robust multi-tiered system of supports. Tier 1 strategies include: Casel-aligned explicit social emotional lessons, Vigorous physical movement for all students based on ability, Mental and Physical health education, Curriculum embedded anti-racist, anit-bias, social justice and environmentally focused education, Passion projects, community and civic engagement, Hands-on, experiential arts education, PBIS and values-driven student culture. Tier 2 and 3 Strategies include: Universal social emotional screening with tiered supports, Restorative Justice, Social Emotional intervention groups, Academic intervention and intensive supports, Direct family supports, and Community and staff identity focus groups and empathy interviews.
We believe the critical factor for achieving our Whole Child Vision is integration. For instance, social emotional well-being is not something that is separate from academics or social justice work. Nor is a child’s math ability disconnected from their sense of self, their belief in their own abilities and their passion for learning about the world. To achieve this vision, we structure our adults into integrated teams to support students. Student and Family Supports Team: Members include our School Psychologist and our School Administrators as well as our Nurse, Family Liaison, School Technology Partner and Discovery Link Coordinator.Social Emotional and Mental Health Team: Members include our Physical Education Teacher, Classroom Teachers, our School Psychologist and our School Administrators. MTSS Team: Members include Classroom Teachers, Special Education Teachers, Speech Pathologist, School Psychologist and School Administrators. Biliteracy Team: Members include Dual Language Teachers and our Language Leads. Equity Team: Members include STL’s, Specials teachers, Classroom Teachers, School Administrator and our Equity Lead. Possibility Team: Dedicated to exploring our curriculum integration with anti-racist, anit-bias, social justice and environmentally focused education. Members include STL’s, classroom teachers and School Administrator. PBIS Team: Members include Classroom teachers and Team Specialists.
These adult teams connect the dots between all the factors that impact our student’s ability to learn and grow and support the systems and structures that will hold them up. These strategies and the teams that drive them impact the academic, social emotions and life success or our students and this will be reflected in our data measures in the coming years.
Despite the challenges Covid-19 has brought to our community we are exceedingly proud of our ability to center the whole child and bring supports to nearly every child. This couldn’t be done without also supporting the whole adult including all our staff and teachers. We have done this by regular check-ins, mental health surveys, one on one opportunities with school administrators, health and safety measures, community building, staff appreciation and especially our affinity focus groups centering our Staff of Color and their experiences. We are fundamentally a self-reflective school that embraces the complexity of educating for the full potential of the human experience. We are excited to share our work in this application and we thank you for this opportunity.