Evaluation of Student and Family Well-being in the Minnetonka School District
The Minnetonka School District is well known for its success in promoting academic excellence. District leaders have also recognized the importance of students’ social/emotional functioning, and the Minnetonka school board has placed student and family well-being as its highest priority for the past 3 years. Student well-being is defined as the positive sense of self and belonging that students feel when their cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are met. Well-being reflects resiliency and self-awareness, empowering students to make positive, healthy choices in and out of the classroom.
The Minnetonka school board defined the goal of creating and implementing a plan that supports parents’ desires to have their students be socially and emotionally strong and that provides the appropriate level of support to students for their academic, social and emotional well-being. District leaders have been encouraged to strengthen internal supports and to develop a hub of resources for families. The District’s resource map identifies structural components including staff training, clear program goals, an established referral process and monitoring program efficacy. In response to the goal of effectively monitoring program efficacy, I have been asked to provide an evaluation of District programs and activities as they relate to students’ well-being.
The District has adopted numerous students supports, including some that are specifically directed toward improving well-being, and others that impact well-being indirectly. The Minnetonka District is committed to provide the best possible environment for development of academic and social/emotional skills. “Serving students well and inspiring them to reach their highest level of personal and academic achievement is the essence of our quest to be a world-class public-school district. We will identify and respond to unique learning needs as early as possible. We will also strive to help students avoid self-limiting labels and focus on their unique talents and gifts…. Minnetonka teachers will recognize that they must address emotional and developmental issues during the learning experience in order for effective learning to take place.”
Dr. Peterson has noted, “Although we still have a firm commitment to parents having responsibility for their children’s mental health, the District can be very supportive of students and parents in areas where there are multiple students facing specific challenges…. Sufficient time can be devoted to the development of social skills and emotional skills to enable students to be even more successful academically… the lack of emotional skills and social skills can actually hinder the academic development of students. So, that balance is important, and could be managed by teachers, counselors and principals.”
This report is comprised of two major sections. The first section focuses on the methodology of targeting improvements in well-being. It describes techniques of fostering wellness, resiliency and stress reduction. Skill building activities are directed to all students, and build on the numerous and valuable tier 1 activities already taken place in the District.
The second section focuses on present and potential future District activities as they relate to students who clearly have a lack of well-being. Information was gathered from a variety of sources, including numerous interviews with school district staff. Every effort was made to gather data in order to establish clarity regarding topics related to mental health supports in the District. The data are summarized in the body of the report, with full reports outlined in the appendices to the report.
To continue reading the rest of the article, access the file in PDF format.
Read or download the entire 172-page report in PDF format at the link below.