The Total Child

Highline Public Schools #RethinkDisicpline and Out of School Supensions

(School Discipline , On The Road, National Awareness) Permanent link

The following is a guest post by AASA member, Susan Enfield, Superintendent of Highline Public Schools (WA), who attended the AASA/CDF Summit on School Discipline in October 2016.Watch this video, from the Summit, where Superintendent Enfield discusses how suspension should be used as a last resort in school discipline. 

 Enfield
  Watch The Video

During the 2011-12 school year, Highline Public Schools out-of-school suspended or expelled students 2107 times. The most common offense? Defiance. As the district’s new superintendent I knew we had to take action. Fortunately, our staff, school board and community were ready to do just that, so as part of our strategic planning process in 2012-13 we identified six bold goals worthy of our students. One of those was the elimination of out-school-suspensions and expulsions except when critical for staff and student safety which put us on our path to rethinking school discipline in Highline.

 While there is ample research that points to why out-of-school suspension is not a successful intervention or deterrent when it comes to student behavior, what was even more compelling for us were our own students. When asked, they told us that suspension simply didn’t work. Furthermore, we knew from our own data that even one out-of-school suspension increased the likelihood that a student would ultimately drop out, meaning that loss of time in school potentially meant the loss of a high school diploma.

Knowing we had to find ways to get to the root cause of a student’s behavior rather than simply punishing them for it, we invested in Re-engagement Specialists at each of our middle and high schools to lead the development of alternatives to suspension that would keep students in school, while also providing appropriate consequences for their actions and needed interventions and support. As with any new strategy, we have experienced both successes and failures; this is paradigm-shifting work that is not without its criticism or controversy. It is, however, the right thing to do for our students. We have learned that communicating, constantly, with our families and community is essential so we continue to get better at telling our story, an example of which you can see in this video.

Our promise in Highline Public Schools is to ensure that every student is known by name, strength and need and graduates prepared for college, career and citizenship. To deliver on this promise we are committed to keeping our students in school and creating a culture where staff and students alike feel safe, supported and challenged.

AASA Community of Practice Highlights the Impact of Alternative School Breakfast

(Alternative School Breakfast , Healthy Eating and Active Living , On The Road) Permanent link

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The entire group for the Community of Practice at the end of the meeting in New Orleans.

 On October 19th and 20th, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, convened a Community of Practice for current and former Food Service Directors along with their mentors in New Orleans. A Community of Practice is more than a meeting, it’s an opportunity for participants to share best practices, brainstorm ideas to address challenges through case studies, and share stories on how the program has impacted their schools and community.

Mentors from state-level, anti-hunger community organizations, as well as food service directors from past cohorts, shared their expertise through interactive panel discussions. Everyone had a chance to network at a celebratory dinner in New Orleans, after spending the afternoon together.

Since 2011, with funding from the Walmart Foundation, AASA works with districts to increase school breakfast participation using alternative breakfast strategies like Grab N' Go and Breakfast in the Classroom. The current cohort of eleven school districts has been working with AASA since Spring 2015. AASA has funded 22 districts to do this work since 2011.

What Would You Do? Collaborative Case Studies  

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 Following the welcome, introductions, and storytelling, participants were broken out into smaller groups to work on case studies. The case studies were inspired by focus groups that AASA conducted at four school districts currently participating in the initiative. Learn more about the focus groups from The Total Child

 In the case studies, groups developed plans on how to address hunger in their community, discussed how to approach the issue of food waste in their schools and developed a strategy on how to expand the breakfast program with parental support. They also considered different perspectives on healthy, less popular foods versus the more sugary foods like Pop tarts. One group developed their ideal alternative school breakfast program - if there were no limits with staffing or money. Participants were appreciative of this activity because it focused on issues that they face daily.

Insights and Advice from Past Food Service Directors and Mentors  

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A panel of past food service directors.

 The Community of Practice featured two interactive panels: one featuring food service directors from past cohorts and another featuring mentor from statewide anti-hunger and dairy organizations.
The past food service directors panel focused on sustainability in terms of political support and communications. Key points included:

  •  Looking back, they were shocked on how much they needed the alternative school program.
  •  First and foremost, it’s important to consider what is best for children. Alternative School Breakfast has the potential to impact lives.
  •  If key stakeholders like superintendents and principals aren’t on board to have the program, historical data is important to show the importance of the school breakfast.
  •  Food service directors need to be connected to the superintendent, so that they are viewed as a key supporter of the school breakfast program.

 The mentors offered their expertise as state level advocates focused on anti-hunger and dairy initiatives. They discussed how food service directors can:

  •  Change the way they market school meals, and meals during summer and holiday breaks. For instance, take the word ‘free’ out of the marketing and instead say how it’s a complimentary meal.
  •  Change the dialogue of how school breakfast is discussed at the state level.
    •   Attend state association meetings with school system leaders
    •   Contribute to state level publications to show the impact of school breakfast, and
    •  Work with mentor organizations to connect with other school districts in your state to serve as a role model or learn from other districts on how they implement the program.
     
  •  Conduct a focus group with students to see what aspects of the program resonate with them.

 Stories from the Heart

Throughout the Community of Practice, current food service directors shared stories on the alternative school breakfast program through letters, videos, testimonials and parent surveys. Highlights included:  

  •  Chicago Public Schools and Newark Public Schools (NJ) had videos featuring students who made up their own songs on the impact of school breakfast.
  •  Spring Independent School District (TX) told one of their stories from the perspective of a favorite food item in Breakfast in the Classroom: little pancakes.
  •  In Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY), more than 50 parents filled out a survey which was promoted on social media and on the district’s website. Parents wrote of the impact that school breakfast had on their lives.
    •  One parent wrote: “I'll admit; I don't make the best food choices at times. I'm a full time student, with a deployed husband, and a newborn to care for. More often than not, by the end of my exhausting day, I'll give anything to my kindergartener just so we don't have to have a battle at the table. At least I know that she'll eat, and eat well when I don't have time to run to the supermarket for fresh fruits and veggies."

School district leaders discussed how they could use these stories to share with key stakeholders in their community like School Board members and how they could connect stories to the data collected relating to average daily participation and metrics relating to discipline and tardiness.

Community of Practice—More than a Meeting

 This Community of Practice was in part a celebration of the work that our 11 current participating districts have done over the past year and a half. It was also an opportunity for food service directors from past cohorts to reflect on how the program has evolved over the past five years. It was a chance for mentors to learn from school district leaders how they can best share their resources and expertise. By networking, sharing stories and problem solving through real life examples that occur on a daily basis, everyone went back to their district with new ideas on how to expand, sustain and improve their programs.  

 

Focus Groups Share Impact of AASA Alternative School Breakfast Program

(Alternative School Breakfast , Healthy Eating and Active Living , On The Road) Permanent link

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 In late September and early October, members of AASA Children’s Programs traveled to four of our 11 current school breakfast districts—Spring Independent School District (TX), Meriden Public Schools (CT), Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NY), and Hempstead Union Free School District (NY) to conduct focus groups with parents, administrators, and elementary, middle school and high school students.

With funding from the Walmart Foundation, AASA works with member districts to increase school breakfast participation using alternative breakfast strategies, such as Grab N Go, Breakfast in the Classroom and Second Chance Breakfast. The main goal of the initiative is to increase the number of low-income students who eat breakfast in these districts, thus helping to improve both health and education outcomes.

 

 HempsteadVending
Hempstead Union Free District (NY) School Breakfast Team in Front of Grab N Go Vending Machine in Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School.

Parents

 “Before, about two years ago, when we had to pay for meals, my daughter said she felt sorry for a friend who couldn’t afford breakfast or lunch. I had to explain that she could no longer share with her friend. How can you tell a kid that? It’s good for kids to now know that they have the option [to eat at school].” –Parent from Spring Independent School District (TX) 

 Spring ISD Focus Group September 19th
The parent focus group had the opportunity to sample Spring ISD's School Breakfast offerings, including smoothies.

Parents in Spring Independent School District, expressed a sentiment shared across all the focus groups from students to administrators: since every child has the option to eat breakfast, the students seem happier, more alert, and ready to learn in the morning. Students are more focused on their schoolwork rather than on the fact that they are hungry. Parents, students and administrators stated that because of eating breakfast, children did better in school.

Some of the parents’ children were in schools that weren’t part of the AASA alternative school breakfast program. They were hearing the positive experiences about the program from other parents, and wanted it for their children. It was helpful for the Superintendent and Food Service Director to hear this feedback so they not only can continue this program, but expand it to as many schools as possible in their district.

Students
“The lunch ladies are very nice and I appreciate everything they do. They do a good job because they are managing two lines at breakfast and lunch. I think that there should be a lunch ladies’ appreciation day.”-Middle School Student Meriden Public Schools (CT)

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Meriden Public Schools (CT) Grab N Go Cart.

 Hearing from students was a highlight from these focus groups. They brought perspectives about nutrition that were comparable to that of a dietician or food service director. For instance, one seventh grader-with no personal dietary restrictions- from Meriden Public Schools, suggested that the school breakfast team add more variety of milk such as almond milk and lactose free milk. She also suggested including an extra breakfast cart for students with allergies to limit cross-contamination for those students with peanut, lactose and gluten allergies.

 Moreover, an elementary school student in Hempstead explained how she learned from the district’s Food Service Director that 20 grams or less of sugar are healthier options and should be considered to avoid getting cavities or having too many calories. The students also shared how while they would prefer hot food for breakfast (a preference shared across grade levels and in all the districts) they understood that when food cools down, there’s an increased risk of bacteria.

 Students appreciate the opportunity to socialize with friends during school breakfast time. They also found that hallways were less chaotic than when they only had the option to eat in the cafeteria. In middle and high schools, more children are waiting in line, eager to eat Grab N Go breakfast from a cart or vending machine. Middle school students in Meriden Public Schools discussed how the Grab N Go cart method is used so much, that they suggested that the school breakfast team should purchase an extra cart.

 Furthermore, in elementary schools, Breakfast in the Classroom helps children ease into their school day.

   “When breakfast was served in the cafeteria, [The school staff] used to tell us ‘hurry up, hurry up, be quiet, be quiet’. Now that it is eaten in the classroom, they encourage us to be more social,” observed an elementary school student in Hempstead Union Free District (NY).

Administrators

 “Not as many students are coming [to the nurse’s office] because they are hungry. I used to give [students] crackers and juice- things like that-. I don’t do that as much anymore. I tell [the students] about the [school breakfast] vending machines and they use them.” – A middle school Nurse, Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY) 

 A look of horror crossed each of the four assistant principals’ faces at a middle school, when asked if they thought school breakfast should be continued or discontinued in Newburgh Enlarged School District. “Discontinue? No, we can’t do that,” said one assistant principal, “Taking away the breakfast program would be disruptive to the school and the kids will be agitated.”

 The assistant principals in Newburgh Enlarged School District (NY) shared how a local church served meals during out-of-school times such as summertime or during breaks. When pulling information for the summer meal program, the Food Service Director noted that many children had the same address -that of a hotel for the homeless. That helped the district know that there were more homeless children in their district than the 1,000 that they count.  

 As of the 2016-2017 school year, the Newburgh has district wide Community Eligibility, meaning all students receive free school breakfast and school lunch.

 “When we announced district wide Community Eligibility during ninth grade orientation, the parents were excited about free breakfast and lunch,” the assistant principals said.

 Other administrators discussed how they approached implementing the program.

 “I thought school breakfast was a great idea, but it was scary in the sense of ‘how are we going to do it,’” said a middle school principal in Meriden Public Schools (CT). “School breakfast started day one. We said ‘we are doing to attack it and do the best we can.’"

Conclusions  

 It was apparent from the focus groups that breakfast affects students beyond academics and that these programs impacted the districts’ communities in a positive way.

 For Meriden, Public Schools (CT), establishing a community feel was essential to the success of their program. Everyone on staff from teachers to custodians to the principal to the library manager greets the children in the morning, encouraging them to take a breakfast. The school psychologist noted that “something we talked about in grad school is how kids who eat breakfast do better. It was great to see alternative school breakfast in action, after learning about its impact in school.”

  Sharon Gardner was encouraged to begin a summer meals program after learning about it from other participating school district leaders at AASA’s April 2016 Community of Practice .

“I was afraid of [implementing a summer meal programs] for a long time. I thought it would be a big, bad scary thing and it wasn’t,” said Hempstead Food Service Director Sharon Gardner.

 A Community of Practice is more than a meeting—it’s an opportunity to share best practices, brainstorm ideas to address challenges and share stories of how the program has impacted schools and community. AASA convened another Community of Practice in late October 2016. Insights from the focus groups inspired case studies, where food service directors and mentors from state level anti-hunger and dairy organizations worked together to develop strategies and plans on how to improve the alternative school breakfast programs. Learn more about the October 2016 Community of Practice from the Total Child blog.

Snapshot of Focus Group School Districts

  

District
City/State
Superintendent
Food Service Director
Free/ Reduced Meal Rate
Spring Independent School District     
Houston, TX
Rodney Watson
Shelly Copeland
 74%
Meriden Public Schools
Meriden, Conn.
Mark Benigni
Susan Maffe
68%
Newburgh Enlarged City School District
Newburgh, NY
Roberto Padilla
Caitlin Lazarski
CEP District Wide
Hempstead Union Free District
Hempstead, NY
Fadhilika Atiba-Weza Sharon Gardner CEP District Wide

AASA Children's Programs Out and About: Volunteering At the White House Kitchen Garden

(Healthy Eating and Active Living , On The Road) Permanent link

On Wednesday, July 12th, Kelly Beckwith and Rebecca Shaw of AASA’s Children’s Programs department volunteered at the White House Kitchen Garden alongside with representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Park Service.

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(Pictured L-R) Rebecca Shaw, Project Coordinator, AASA and Kelly Beckwith, Project Director, AASA at the White House Kitchen Garden

The garden is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to teach children about healthy eating and where their food comes from. As an Educational Leadership Partner of Let’s Move! Active Schools, AASA is a proponent of healthy eating and active living in schools to help combat childhood obesity


It was a privilege to have hands-on experience harvesting vegetables and learning how the food is grown and used in the White House Kitchen Garden. Most of the food is used for the First Family’s personal meals, though some is used in state dinners and at other events. Some of the vegetables are also taken to a local food bank, to prepare fresh, healthy meals for the homeless.

 LetsMoveGardenTruck 

AASA is grateful to be a Let’s Move! partner and to share the message of healthy eating and active living with superintendents nationwide.

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Collaborative School Breakfast Community of Practice Engages School Leaders

(Alternative School Breakfast , On The Road) Permanent link


 SchoolBreakfast CoPOverview

  In your role as superintendent, what would you say is your superpower when implementing the alternative school breakfast program within your district?”

The ability to start with the end in mind; basing every decision with what’s best for the students; have a unifying vision-- those were a few of the superpowers that superintendents saw themselves possessing when speaking on a panel during our school breakfast Community of Practice.

 These candid conversations emerged during our 1-1/2 day Community of Practice, held April 21-22 in Charlotte, N.C., which provided opportunities to cross-share and network between the 11 grantee school districts. A Community of Practice is more than a meeting —it provides a collaborative, supportive environment to work on a single issue – in this case, alternative school breakfast.

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 (Pictured L-R) Supt Carrie Brock (Williamsburg, SC), Supt Mark Benigni (Meriden Conn.),Supt Susan Johnson (Hempstead, NY), Supt Dan Decker (Neosho, MO) , and Sharon Adams-Taylor of AASA

“It’s our responsibility to educate the total child,” said Superintendent Carrie Brock of Williamsburg County School District in South Carolina. “Students have a long day. We, as educators need to make sure their needs, like eating, are satisfied.”

 Looking back, if you had the chance to address a School Breakfast program challenge over again, what would you do differently?

 
The alternative school breakfast program helps to significantly increase the participation of needy children in the federal school breakfast program, by moving breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the hallways and classrooms.

TXHungerCoP  
Kathy Krey, Director of Research at the Texas Hunger Initiative on the importance of data collection at the School Breakfast Community of Practice

 The importance of data collection in assessing the impact of School Breakfast was addressed through a Community of Practice first: a guest speaker. Kathy Krey, Director of Research at the Texas Hunger Initiative highlighted a study she conducted in two urban school districts that showed that both students’ health and education are positively correlated with eating breakfast at school.

 For your school breakfast program to successfully continue over time, what does it need?

 
In addition to district staff, mentors from state anti-hunger organizations participate in the Community of Practice. They held workshops on topics including community eligibility, student involvement in the breakfast program, and garnering educator’s support. Each participating district works with a mentor throughout this two-year program.

 
“I always ask, ‘How I can help you?’” stated John Puder of the Texas Hunger Initiative, who serves as a mentor to Spring Independent School District. “As mentors, we are advocates for our school districts. My only goal is to make sure YOU as my district is a success.”

AASA is grateful to the Walmart Foundation for its support of our alternative school breakfast programs.

 


 

AASA Honored for Longtime Partnership with the Coalition for Supporting Community Schools

(On The Road) Permanent link

On April 7th, The Coalition for Community Schools presented the National Partner Award to AASA at the Community Schools National Forum in Albuquerque, NM.

 Bryan Joffe, Project Director, Education and Youth Development accepted the award on AASA’s behalf.

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 "If we, as a movement, are committed to real equity rather than perceived equality, we can make community schools the reality for all of our children," said Joffe when accepting the National Partner Award on AASA’s Behalf.

 The National Partner Award is presented by the Coalition for Community Schools to a national partner that has made significant contributions to the work of the Coalition and towards growing the field. As a member on the Coalition’s steering committee, AASA has been an instrumental partner in supporting the Coalition’s work to support and grow community school’s strategies.

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Pictured from Left to Right: Lisa Villarreal, Program Officer for Education, The San Francisco Foundation, Bryan Joffe, Project Director, AASA, and Martin Blank, President, Institute for Educational Leadership

 In 2011, AASA and the Coalition formed the Community Schools Superintendents Leadership Council,  that serves as a peer support group and spotlights leaders who are deepening their efforts to implement the community school strategy district-wide.

 Two exceptional superintendents also received the Superintendent Leadership Award: Teresa Weatherall Neal of Grand Rapids Public Schools (MI) and Dr. Steve Webb of Vancouver Public Schools (WA), who was a finalist for the 2016 Superintendent of the Year Award. Co-presented with AASA, the Coalition’s Superintendent Leadership Award is given to the superintendent who championed the community school strategy and led the district in the alignment and support of community schools.

 Read AASA’s press release on the organization’s recognition to learn more.
Read full profiles on all the honorees at the Community Schools National Forum.

We Are Liberty! Strong Community Support Strengthens Alternative School Breakfast in Liberty County School System

(Alternative School Breakfast , On The Road) Permanent link

By Kelly Beckwith, Project Director, Child Nutrition, Hunger and Obesity 

 When I visited Liberty County School System in Hinesville, Georgia, which is part of AASA’s school breakfast Community of Practice, it was clear that the district’s success is in part because of strong community support.

 On every school breakfast site visit we attend, we meet with the district’s School Breakfast Team. Liberty County’s was one of the largest SBT meetings I’ve ever attended!. The meeting included two parents, a representative from the United Way who was also a parent, and many diverse stakeholders within the school system. They discussed the ways in which the new breakfast program – eating breakfast in the classroom in the elementary schools and getting breakfast from kiosks in the middle and high schools – has impacted the community as a whole.

 "This used to feel like an emotional pressure cooker," said Linda Holland, Liberty County’s Food Service Director, about the school cafeteria before moving to breakfast in the classroom. A parent said that breakfast in the classroom helped her son, who has ADHD, start his day off with focus, because having breakfast with his teacher meant that he wasn’t going to be playing in the cafeteria.

 LibCoPressureCooker      LibertyStudents

 

 "I thought breakfast outside of the cafeteria was going to be a nightmare; it was one of the worst things I had ever heard,” stated a high school principal about Grab’n’Go. “I was wrong. Breakfast [on the kiosks] has reduced the number of tardiness and late comers and it has increased our instructional time."

LibCoPrincipal

The high school principal discussing his experiences with me

 The kiosks have resulted in an impressive uptake in school breakfast in Liberty County’s high schools. As school administrators know well, it’s hard to get high school students to eat first thing in the morning, but this district is doing it well; about 40% of the students at two high schools take a breakfast in the morning.

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  The Grab‘n’Go kiosks at Bradwell Institute feature a tiger image, which was chosen by students.

 
In districts with high free and reduced meal rates, an increase in breakfast participation makes a difference in the lives of students and their families.

Learn more about AASA’s School breakfast initiative.