Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organization or ARLnow.com.
The Arlington Public Schools’ mission is to instill a love of learning in students and to prepare them to be responsible and productive global citizens.
To help achieve that mission, APS develops a six-year strategic plan with staff and community involvement. Our 2011-2017 Strategic Plan has helped guide our schools to significant successes. We look forward to building upon those successes in the upcoming school year and to addressing capacity issues that arise, in part, from our achievements.
As Chair of the School Board, I am asking our community to focus particular attention this year on Goal 5 of the APS Strategic Plan, “Meet the Needs of the Whole Child.” In pursuing this goal, we commit to nurturing students’ intellectual, personal, social, physical and emotional development and to providing learning environments that are safe, healthy, engaging and responsive to student needs.
With nearly four decades of experience as an educator, I have come to believe that this goal, to support the Whole Child, is the most important. If our students do not feel safe, are not healthy, and do not feel engaged, they will struggle to learn. I believe the ultimate goal in education is, at its heart, a call to care and support our students so they can succeed.
National and local studies, such as the 2014 ASCD/CDC report, “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child” substantiate the need for this increased emphasis on the Whole Child. The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families reported in its 2014 Community Report Card that one quarter of Arlington children entering kindergarten are obese or overweight. Both reports note that children who are physically active and receive proper nutrition are better learners.
For this reason, I am asking that we, as a community, put greater emphasis on compassion and caring, on the promotion of the overall physical and mental well-being of our students. We need to change the conversation about accountability. We need to expand our definition of success beyond test scores to include a focus on the development of the Whole Child, making sure each student is healthy, safe, engaged, and supported by caring adults.
In this regard, I believe we must look at enhancing physical, mental health and wellness services in our schools, community and county. We must collaborate and align resources with the child’s needs at the center. Families, educators, community organizations and county services must provide the solid network of support essential for student success. We have so many resources here in Arlington. We now need to make sure they fully work to support our students.
The result will be students who are prepared for college, career and citizenship as well as the full breadth of experiences that their multifaceted adult lives will bring. We will continue to look to test scores as one indicator of our children’s success and well being. In this measure, Arlington students do better and better each year, as APS’ recent release on SOL scores reports.
During the new school year and beyond, we can continue to improve both academically and in our support for the Whole Child. To do so we must work collectively to address our students’ needs. We all must share responsibility for our students and their success. With this focus on the Whole Child, our students will be knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, and ready for the world beyond APS.
Emma Violand-Sanchez is Chair of the Arlington County School Board. She joined the Board in January 2009 and previously served as Chair during the 2012-13 school year. She is a career educator and has lived in Arlington since 1978.
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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.