Aug. 3 webinar: Ensuring a Welcoming, Healthy and Restorative Start to School

We had an amazing participation in the third 2022 Attendance Awareness Campaign webinar, Ensuring a Welcoming, Healthy and Restorative Start to School, (August 3, 2022).

Listen to the webinar recording, and find the presentation slides and chat room summary when you scroll down on this page.

The webinar speakers consisted of organization leaders, school administrators and partners who shared their how they create a welcoming return to school that also promotes the health of students and staff.

Hedy Chang, Attendance Works’ executive director, moderated the panel, and Kwesi Rollins, vice president for Leadership & Engagement at the Institute of Educational Leadership (IEL) presented introductory remarks. They reviewed the lack of equitable access to health-focused options for students that have been compounded by the pandemic.

Hedy reviewed Attendance Work’s latest toolkit, Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L. This resource highlights the importance of communication between the school and students, families and community partners.

Lisa Levasseur, director of the Dept. of Family and Community Engagement at Elk Grove Unified School District in California began by sharing what the district has done to incorporate the needs of the students and their families to provide a warm, welcome and restorative start to the year. The district adopted an asset-based approach to creating strong avenues for communication, and focused on how to reduce language barriers between teachers and families to help them feel seen, heard and validated.

Charles Amey, principal of Edward Harris Jr. Middle School in the Elk Grove Unified School District in California shared Elk Grove’s strategies to diagnose community needs, and distribute resources. Such strategies include choosing communication software that is easiest for multilingual families, such as text and email. Additionally the district utilized a Human-Business-Human communication model to facilitate authentic, connections between teachers and families, with a focus on serving the district’s families.

Elizabeth Cook, senior director of Whole Child Health with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation said the definition of a healthy school consists of both healthy people and healthy support systems. This broad definition encompasses various aspects of individual well-being that must be addressed and supported by systems in the community, school and home in order to engage students and their families.

Karen Pittman, partner at Knowledge to Power Catalysts and a member of the Attendance Works Advisory Board explained the various neurological and sociological factors that go into creating an optimal atmosphere for learning. When students feel a sense of belonging while at school, they are able to engage with various forms of learning–formal, informal and independent–that help the student engage with the class material and the world around them.

Many, many thanks to Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools, and Safe and Civil Schools for their generous support of the 2022 Attendance Awareness Campaign and this webinar. We could not have held this event without their support!

Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools brings together extensive health care expertise and partnerships with nationally recognized and trusted organizations to support schools in becoming a beacon of health in their community.

Safe and Civil Schools empowers educators to create safe and supportive school environments that promote student learning and lifelong success.

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