Each student in the New Albany-Plain Local School District deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

That's what a "whole-child approach" to learning, teaching and community engagement really is.

Research continues to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between learning and health.

Well-being is defined as being healthy both physically and mentally in our classrooms, in our community and in life.

New Albany-Plain Local is improving student well-being by:

* Helping students develop capabilities that promote health and well-being.

* Ensuring the school learning environments are safe and supportive.

* Strengthening engagement with parents, partners and the entire school community.

* Identifying gaps and implementing such programs as the R Factor to help students.

Our school district is committed to creating a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student.

We are fortunate to have an outstanding and caring community to partner with us to create and implement well-being programs and resources for students and families.

I am proud of our community for acknowledging that such challenges exist and for creating opportunities to learn, discuss, support and improve well-being beyond the boundaries of the district campus.

Three years ago, the New Albany Community Foundation publicly launched the mental-health and well-being conversation via the Jefferson Series by arranging for a presentation by mental-health advocate Mariel Hemingway.

Last year, the foundation presented Patrick Kennedy, also a mental-health advocate, and in May will welcome Elizabeth Vargas to continue the discussion on the effects of alcohol addiction.

Such presentations and open discussions on these topics support our students, families and community alike.

Well-being matters, and it directly contributes to the academic achievement and growth of our students each day.

The school district's well-being initiative is strengthened by our partnerships with Concord Counseling Services, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Healthy New Albany, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Mount Carmel Health System, the city of New Albany, Plain Township and community and parent volunteers committed to encouraging well-being.

The community foundation also introduced community member Rick Bayer to district leaders so he could share his systems expertise.

Bayer has helped the district evaluate existing structures and create processes to promote continuous improvement.

To date, school counselors, mental-health specialists, prevention clinicians and administrators have utilized these processes to complete a comprehensive assessment of all student well-being programs to verify if resources are being maximized to meet the needs of students and families and to identify gaps in programming.

The well-being initiative is strong because of the daily efforts of school counselors, mental-health specialists, prevention clinicians and the growing partnerships and involvement of volunteers, parents, residents and local behavioral-health experts committed to meeting the developmental needs of students.

We are working to integrate well-being into our school culture and remain grateful that we have such a caring community sharing resources to help our students.

The district's commitment to engaging the community in these discussions is evidenced by the series of community forums held on the district campus.

In March 2017, the forum focused on substance abuse, and in December 2017, it focused on stress and anxiety in students.

The third forum is scheduled for April and it will focus on alcohol abuse and awareness.

We welcome our community's continued support and involvement. We are stronger together.

To learn more about the district's well-being initiative or how to volunteer, partner or support our efforts, please go to www.napls.us/newalbanywellbeing, attend a community well-being forum, email info@newalbanywellbeing.org or contact any administrator.

Michael L. Sawyers is superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.