Helping All Students Be Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported and Challenged:
A Student’s View of the Whole Child Compact
Amy Mouradian – Wachusett Regional High School
Think about your family. Think about your brothers and sisters. If you’re an only child think about your friends and your cousins. Are they exactly like you? Do the play the same sports? Like the same food? Wear the same clothes? Probably not. Because we are all different.
Look at the person on your left and your right – do they act exactly like you do? Do they have the same favorite classes? Do they succeed in the same areas as you do? No, because they are different.
With each different student, there are different needs to be met, different challenges to be overcome, different strategies to be tried, and different environments to be safe. So how can YOUR school help ALL their students to feel more SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED in the classroom? How can YOUR school motivate their students to wake up in the morning, and WANT to come to school? How can YOUR school cater to every student? How can YOUR school succeed? The answer is simple: YOU. YOU are the answer, YOU are what your school needs to improve, YOU are the solution to their challenges to achieve optimal conditions for learning. YOU are the one who needs to take YOUR dreams and make them reality. YOUR school is relying on YOU to make the changes YOU want to see. YOU have the power.
But just like as no two students are exactly alike, no two schools are alike. One solution will not fit every school. Each school struggles with a different tenet of the Whole Child Compact. So I can’t stand here and tell you how to make your school SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED because I’m not just like you, and your school isn’t just like mine. But I can tell you that YOU can do it. YOU are here because someone in your school believes in YOU. YOU are here because YOU want to make a difference in your school.
At my school, Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, we divided up the students and assigned them each a different tenet of the ‘Whole Child Compact’. Then we all interviewed a diverse group of student by asking questions pertaining to our specific section of Whole Child Compact. The responses were phenomenal and we are currently working on a video to present to the teachers at our school so they understand how the STUDENT feels about the different parts of Whole Child Compact.
The Whole Child Compact is all about the student. It is about YOU. But in order to help the student, one must comprehend the student. Each student reacts differently to the Whole Child Compact: MaryPat Devine, a sophomore at Quabbin Regional High School in Barre claimed, “It really got me thinking about truly making a difference at my school.” You may feel that you are SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED at school, but you are a single student, a single student that can make a difference, YOU can make a difference. Make a difference with all of the other students in your school who don’t feel SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED in their classrooms. Learn from others as well. Even if every single student in your school feels SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED in the classroom; there is still room for improvement. Alycia Dafoe, a sophomore at Marlborough High School declared, “It was beneficial to hear from other students and what types of problems they were having in their schools so we could realize that we weren’t the only ones.” And she is right; you’re not the only ones. Look around the room – every other student and teacher in this room is struggling with the same issues that you and your school are struggling with. The person across the room may have the safest school in the state, and you may have the most dangerous, but you are still struggling with the same issues. Their school can help yours improve. Not to mention the common strive for improvement in the other four Whole Child areas, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED.
Whole Child Education is in your hands. YOU, the student, are responsible for making the changes you want seen in your school. But who can you turn to for help, when your friends are out of ideas and other schools have not solved the problems either? You find the central theme in all five tenets. Who in school helps you feel SAFE, who creates a HEALTHY environment, who challenges you, who encourages you to be engaged during class, and who supports you in all of the decisions that you make? YOUR TEACHERS. At the fall Whole Child Conference held at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, the students created a list of words that they thought of when the words SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED came into their minds. The most common word on each list was TEACHERS. They are the heart of the school. Effective teachers are constantly pumping out information and never failing to work hard to make the rest of the school flow smoothly. So when you go back to school tomorrow, go see a teacher, not your favorite, but maybe one you don’t get along with sometimes, or a teacher that you know others may not like; and tell them about Whole Child Compact. Explain what you did, tell them what you learned, and share your plans for improvement in your school. Then thank them for being there, and for being a teacher and for helping to keep the flow of the school constantly running.
While the Whole Child Compact is in the hands of the student and finds its source in the teacher, it is also present every day outside of the classroom. At this moment you should be challenged by these questions feel safe enough to form your own opinions healthy enough to understand what is being said engaged in the opportunities presented today .and supported by the faculty and friends you have around you.
Think about your school – your closest friends – your favorite teachers; You are a family. You all work interconnecting to form a complex system that makes up YOUR school’s educational environment: an environment that is SAFE, HEALTHY, CHALLENGED, ENGAGED, and SUPPORTED. An environment where YOU are in control. And an environment where YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!!!
Speech given at 5th Annual School-Based Health Center Awareness Day, Massachusetts State House, April 7, 2010