WHY IS THIS A PRIORITY?
Learning is both simple and complex. There is both skill and artistry in establishing the conditions for optimal learning in which students are able to reach their potential. Current brain research indicates learning occurs when neurons actively make connections; further research demonstrates that chemicals released when students feel unsafe, disconnected, or unable to have an influence limit and can even prevent these neural connections. It is essential we use this important brain research as we make instructional decisions and to create environments conducive to high levels of learning. By creating spaces where students are actively engaged, are empowered to have an influence, are connected, and have a sense of joyfulness, our schools become places rich with opportunity for neural connections. The most sophisticated lesson presented in an environment that has not been carefully and thoughtfully designed to ensure safety and engagement and empowerment and joyfulness is a missed opportunity. We know spaces of optimism are created by leaders and teachers who are themselves safe, empowered, engaged, and joyful; they give out of their overflow. Therefore, this priority emphasizes spaces of optimism for students and staff alike. The work in optimism in the district is informed by the organization Life is Good, Playmakers. Click here to learn more about the power of optimism in student learning. Spaces of optimism are preventative measures that address issues like bullying, suicide, and risky adolescent behaviors are critical. In addition to a positive culture, the district focuses on a safe facilities. With the near completion of a new middle and high school, the District is completing a Master Facility Plan to maintain all buildings. Attention to both the physical structures and culture of our schools is essential to ensuring the health and success of our students.