Dreams4RPS Priority 3
Safe and Loving School Cultures
In order to have safe and loving school cultures, every student needs to feel loved and affirmed for who they are. Our goal is to provide our students with the support they need to be successful. This isn’t limited to only instructional support but mental, physical, and emotional support as well.
Whole Child Supports
Increase the number of staff providing mental health and social supports by at least 25 percent and ensure that all schools have a nurse.
A sense of belonging, investment in school, and learning in a healthy and safe environment can promote connectedness for students which in turn promotes positive education and health outcomes.
To that end, every RPS school now has a nurse on staff and in 2021 the Virginia General Assembly allocated additional resources for specialized support staff including school psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses.
Social Emotional Learning was introduced into our classrooms in 2020 and is described as “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” Every RPS class, across all grade levels, begins the school day with a 'Community Circle', centered on the five core SEL competencies mentioned above. This daily, Community Circle ensures time each day for our teacher to build, cultivate, and maintain authentic relationships with and between their students.
Make "restorative justice" practices a core pillar of the "RPS Way" by providing long-term, meaningful training for our educators and support staff on the skills necessary to resolve conflicts, increase empathy, and reduce suspensions.
To create emotional space, sometimes one must find physical space. RPS is investing in our student's mental and emotional health by creating environments where our students feel safe to properly process their emotions.
In 2019, RPS launched mindfulness rooms in three middle schools: Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas C. Boushall and Albert Hill. Additional mindfulness rooms are being developed in each school and will replace the space formerly held for in-school suspension. By shifting the purposes of these rooms from isolation and punishment to areas of community and reflection, RPS is sending a signal that emotional regulation and awareness superseded punitive reactions to conflict.