Our students are unique people with unique experiences, talents, challenges, and social, emotional, and physical lives. By keeping the wholeness of our students in mind, meeting their needs, hearing their voices, and building partnerships with their families and communities, we can ignite their passion for learning.

Successful schools provide opportunities for students to explore their interests, with enriching activities both in and out of the classroom. They also create positive cultures where students have the confidence to explore those opportunities.

Recent research has also shown that social and emotional learning and “noncognitive” skills are important for student success. For example, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and self-management as important for both personal and academic success, and has created a framework to equip teachers to help students develop these skills. Competence in these skills has been associated with improved academic outcomes, along with increased career success and well-being.

We also know from research and our own experience in our schools that students may need resources and support to ensure that their physical needs are met. Students who are hungry are likely to have trouble focusing on classroom assignments; students who need glasses may struggle simply because they can’t see what’s on the laptop screen or whiteboard.