Montgomery County Schools Embraces the Whole Child Support Model
This January, Montgomery County Schools (MCS) Superintendent Dr. Dale Ellis and Assistant Superintendent for Accountability, Diversity and Equity Dr. Takeda LeGrand presented some of our county’s successes with the Whole Child support model to the North Carolina State Board of Education.
The Whole Child, Whole School, Whole Community (WSCC) is an approach that aligns the practices of education, public health and school health to improve learning and wellbeing among students. Dr. Ellis introduced this concept to MCS ten years ago with the hope of addressing needs and supporting growth in a student’s life beyond their education.
“We have focused on building a model and providing a continuum of services that impacts the whole child from the beginning of my tenure,” Ellis said. “True student success can only be achieved when a child reaches success in all areas of their life.”
MCS has seen many positive results through the incorporation of the WSCC Model over the last ten years, including:
- Raising our graduation rate from 70% in 2010 to 91% in 2019
- Reducing our teen pregnancy ranking from second highest in the state (we currently do not have a high enough number to be ranked!)
- A 50% decrease in out-of-school suspensions
- Increasing student attendance rate to 95%
- Expanding support services such as health centers, dental centers and additional mental health counselors
Dr. LeGrand believes that these successes have stemmed from creating strong, effective policies and programs as well as receiving support from students, families and the community.
“The five tenets of WSCC are evident in our district’s strategic plan,” she said. “We understand that we must have strong policies in place, as well as strong community partnerships, for schools to reach the center of the model: the child. We want to create opportunities that address all five tenets in each student: his or her need to feel safe, engaged, supported, challenged and healthy.”
In addition to addressing the five tenets of WSCC on an individual level, MCS leaders, staff and supporters have worked to weave the model’s ten components into different programs, partnerships and practices. These include:
- Physical Education/Physical Activity – participation in programs like Girls on the Run, Heart and Sole
- Nutrition Environment/Services – Second Chance breakfast, snacks at after school programs, CIS Backpack Buddies
- Health Services – onsite school health centers and onsite school-based dental centers
- Counseling/Psychological & Social Services – more mental health staff and a full-time Trauma Counselor
- Social Emotional Climate – Professional D on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and SEL goals included in Diversity and Equity Plans, student programs such as Gator Good Guys
- Physical Environment – internal/external equity audits, student climate surveys and flexible seating options
- Employee Wellness – Teacher attendance goals, onsite vaccinations and access to school-based health centers
- Family Engagement – Strengthening Families, Parenting Tool Kit, social media, and Parent Cafe’s
- Community Involvement – School Health Advisory Committee, Teen Pregnancy Taskforce, Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce; membership on local boards
- Health Education – Safe Talk, Darkness-to-Light, Fluoride and Dental Sealants, Social Circles
Dr. Ellis says that while these successes are a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved and deserve to be celebrated, this is just the beginning for Montgomery County Schools.
“I see this model continuing to be a major driving force behind what we do,” Ellis said. “We are blessed to have a phenomenal school board who cares about our students. They are the true driver behind all success that we have as a school district.”