Upper Arlington Schools believes well-being is critical to fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment where our students and staff can thrive.

In our new strategic plan, we have committed to the well-being of our students and staff. We believe it is essential for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and balance in order to have safe learning environments in which everyone can thrive.

This commitment grew out of the district safety recommendations approved by the board of education in the summer of 2018 and is rooted in our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. We want every member of our community to feel welcome, valued, supported and embraced.

Our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion began in 2016 when the district partnered with the Upper Arlington Education Association and the Ohio Education Association to provide a three-day training for more than 100 staff members from across the district.

These staff members serve as leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion work in their buildings and departments.

As a district, we know we must continue to build on this foundation -- offering additional support to our schools, students and families as we work together toward this goal.

An important piece of this will be put into place over the next several months in advance of the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

As part of the new strategic plan, the board of education has committed to creating a position that would oversee the strategic priority of well-being, including our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through feedback from staff and community members, it became clear that this was too much for one person, and I have to agree.

Luckily, new wellness funds from the state of Ohio will allow us to hire two positions without increasing our budget, with one person focusing on well-being and a senior-level administrator able to fully focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

As we move forward, we will continue to collaborate with parents and other community partners. We have so many people who are passionate about this. I know that together we can and we will make a difference.

We know there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are committed to this work for the benefit of all of our students and our community. Our commitment will not be deterred. We will ensure that the Upper Arlington school district is a place where "all means all."

Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.