The Cherry Creek School District’s recent survey to assess the climate of safety, wellness and support for students boiled down to a simple common denominator.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Deputy Superintendent Scott Siegfried during a presentation to the CCSD Board of Education during its regular meeting on Oct. 9. “Students need positive, supportive elements in their schools. They need to sustain connections.”
That was one of the conclusions pulled from a vast amount of data that came as part of the district’s climate survey conducted during the 2016-17 school year. The survey went out to students, parents and staff from schools across the district’s 108 square miles, and asked a wide range of sometimes difficult questions.
Siegfried also presented the findings to the Cherry Creek Schools Parents’ Council on Oct. 11 and was joined by Director of Mental Health Services Ron Lee, District Wellness Coordinator Janise McNally, PBIS and Bully Prevention Coordinator Marla Bonds and Research and Data Coordinator Amy Plog.
In order to fulfill the district’s longstanding commitment to providing safe, supportive learning environments for students and effective partnerships among students, families, and school staff, the survey sought input about topics ranging from bullying to substance abuse to sleep patterns. The in-depth survey isn’t a new step for CCSD – the district has conducted surveys every other year since 2000, with updates provided during non-survey years.
Siegfried’s presentation to the board on Oct. 9 and the Parents’ Council on Oct. 11 featured in-depth results from the survey, elements that came along with insights regarding mental health, wellness and bullying prevention from fellow CCSD administrators. The data pointed to trends over time in regards to perceptions of safety, bullying, stress and substance abuse, and revealed both positive and negative trends.
Though the data covered a wide range of topics, a common observation was the importance of students at all levels having access to a network of peers and adults. In regards to suicide prevention, for example, the accessibility of caring friends and adults made a clear difference. Students who are connected to others are less likely to have reported suicidal thoughts.
“Our priority in terms of stress, anxiety, depression and other issues is making sure students are able to tell someone, to get information to trusted adults,” Siegfried said.
That philosophy is a driving force behind several programs featured during the presentation, initiatives such as the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) bullying prevention programs, as well as Suicide Prevention Programs developed specifically for schools and mindfulness initiatives designed to encourage “proactive vs. reactive” behavior. Resources like the district’s CARE Line and the large network of mental health professionals at every school are designed to give every student access to supportive and caring adults.
“These are the most important questions we can ask,” Siegfried said.
View the full climate survey presentation here.