Schools Using Coordinated Health Programs to Help Improve Student Achievement

October 29, 2012

LANSING – Twenty-three Michigan high schools are receiving assistance as part of an innovative three-year grant aimed at improving students' learning by coordinating academics along with healthy lifestyles, anti-bullying programs, parent and youth engagement, and other interventions, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) said today.

The Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) model, titled think.respect. in Michigan, is funded through a $24 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It will ensure that students in the 23 pilot high schools learn an array of skills that – when paired with school improvement efforts – can lead to greater academic achievement among students because they are healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally, according to MDE.

"We are hoping to learn some new lessons associated with a holistic approach to education through the course of this unique new grant," said State Superintendent Mke Flanagan.

Over the course of the next three years, these pilot schools will put in place systems encouraging students to learn positive behaviors and healthy lifestyles that will lead to greater academic success, while teaching students to become responsible citizens in the 21st century.

Schools participating in the think.respect grant include:

  • Beecher High School (Mt. Morris)
  • Benton Harbor High School (Benton Harbor)
  • Bloomingdale High School (Bloomingdale)
  • Buena Vista High School (Saginaw)
  • Clintondale High School (Clinton Township)
  • E. A. Johnson High School (Mt. Morris)
  • Fitzgerald High School (Warren)
  • Harper Woods High School (Harper Woods)
  • Eastern High School (Lansing)
  • Lee High School (Wyoming)
  • Marion High School (Marion)
  • Mumford High School (Detroit)
  • New Haven High School (New Haven)
  • Pershing High School (Detroit)
  • Pontiac Academy (Pontiac)
  • Southeastern High School (Detroit)
  • River Rouge High School (River Rouge)
  • Truman High School (Taylor)
  • Robichaud High School (Dearborn Heights)
  • Ross Beatty High School (Cassopolis)
  • Saginaw High School (Saginaw)
  • Willow Run High School (Ypsilanti)
  • Ypsilanti High School (Ypsilanti)

"Schools need every tool at their disposal to deliver a high quality education to students across Michigan," said Flanagan. "In these 23 high schools, we're approaching the learning process in a different way, since for many students in our schools, academics are only one part of the educational process.

"Through think.respect., we hope to expand their horizons, recognizing that integrating physical, emotional, and social health into the school day is enormously important to student achievement now and in the future. We need to better understand health inequities and how they affect school culture and climate," he added.

Flanagan said individual schools can select several interventions from an approved list to implement as part of think.respect., with Coordinated School Health, including: anti-bullying programs, restorative justice, parent and youth engagement, the Michigan Model, Eliminating Barriers for Learning, community involvement, and other interventions.

Flanagan also said the Michigan Department of Education will evaluate this customized approach to determine possible best practices for schools statewide to consider implementing.

For most students, their overall emotional and physical health affects academic performance, and that health is determined by many factors – neighborhood safety, bullying, mental health, alcohol use, obesity, race relations, and other reasons, according to Kyle Guerrant, director of the Office of School Support Services at the Michigan Department of Education.

"This grant will show us how we can help students address those problems and feel secure in the school environment," Guerrant said.

This customized approach to Coordinated School Health and think.respect. will be different in each school, depending on the interventions they select, Guerrant explained.

"The goal of the think.respect. grant is to develop concrete strategies in these schools that lead to a climate of greater school improvement over time for students," Guerrant said.

Schools themselves have been involved in the creation and development of the interventions included in the program. The flexible nature of think.respect. is purposeful – the grant allows each school to concentrate on the efforts teachers, administrators, and parents think have the best chance for long-term success with their individual students.

Guerrant said it is MDE's hope that, over time, students in these high schools will develop healthy habits that lead to sustained healthy behaviors and greater academic achievement in school.

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