Aided by staff advisory groups, subgroups of community volunteers and the Coach to Lead consulting firm, Upper Arlington Schools officials are evaluating 15 draft recommendations developed since January to shape a strategic plan for student and staff "well-being."
In developing the plan, the subgroups were asked to focus on "belonging," which the district has defined as "a person's feeling of safety and connectedness where they can be authentic, supported by an inclusive culture that intentionally promotes relationships, builds trust and celebrates individuals."
The groups also were instructed to be mindful of "balance," which the district defines as "a person's feeling of harmony between school and personal time that allows for satisfaction in all areas of their life."
The 15 draft recommendations, or a portion of them, are expected to be presented to the Upper Arlington Board of Education in June. The board will determine which proposals to endorse and include in a well-being strategic plan.
"Well-being is foundational to everything we strive to achieve in our schools," Superintendent Paul Imhoff said. "It's the first step toward safe learning environments, academic success and mastery of the problem-solving skills that are so critical in today's world."
The draft recommendations range from developing a system to collect data on students' and staff members' senses of belonging and balance to hiring an administrator to coordinate, implement and monitor well-being initiatives.
Other recommendations call for designating time within the school day to practice mindfulness meditation or instituting a "life-management" program for students that includes topics such as stress management, goal-setting, boundaries, positive habits, problem-solving and proper use of social media.
Additionally, the district also may recommend creating a program "that encourages and supports the development of healthy habits for staff's work-life balance"; increasing opportunities for students to take part in intramural or club activities; and communicating this information more intentionally to students who are minimally involved in extracurriculars.
Leading to next month's presentation to the school board, district officials and their consultant will work to home in on the suggestions they believe are most necessary to include in the well-being plan, along with any additions to the draft recommendations.
"We want to refine and collapse some of them, prioritize some of them, but we could be missing something," said Denise Snowden, founder and lead coach for Coach to Lead. "The inquiry and advisory teams are coming back together and they're going to take everything provided in terms of input and feedback.
"They're going to go through the second draft of our recommendations. We're going to try to get it more narrow."
Imhoff said the school board ultimately will determine which recommendations to approve and how they will be implemented.
From there, administrators and staff will review the initiatives. The district also will continue to analyze them to chart their effectiveness and evaluate if further actions should be taken.
"Once approved by the board of education, the new strategic plan would take effect at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year," Imhoff said. "The document will include an implementation timeline, outlining which steps should be taken at what time."