Seattle Public Schools focus on 'whole child' approach as school year starts

Seattle Public Schools focus on 'whole child' approach as school year starts

SEATTLE — The new school year kicked off Wednesday with new Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau welcoming students and parents at John Rogers Elementary, at North Seattle.

KIRO 7 talked to Juneau about the “whole child” approach being emphasized districtwide and heard from parents what they want improved.

Excitement was in the air among students, teachers and parents.  First-grader Gus Lewis was excited to tell KIRO 7 his locker is next to his friend’s locker.

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“I'm next to one of my friends who was in kindergarten,” Gus said.

His dad, Marty, is also excited for the first day of school.

“It's relieving, honestly,” Marty said.  “But it also tugs at your heartstrings.”

Juneau spent the morning shaking parents’ hands and wishing kids a good start to the school year.

“The first of day of school is always awesome,” Juneau told KIRO 7 as she discussed a key focus in all Seattle Public Schools.  “The district's really been looking at whole child, not just the academics of schools, which we want to be really quality. But also, how do students feel? Do they feel like they belong?”

At John Rogers Elementary, teachers put together the Social/Emotional Learning Curriculum.  Principal Sara Mirabueno explained what it involves.

“So, welcoming environment,” Mirabueno said.  “Welcome, we're so happy you're here. If a student has missed a day, it's important to say we missed you. We recognized that.  It's important to know the students by name. And we know their family and we know what their needs are.”

Marty Lewis told KIRO 7 what he wants the superintendent to address.

“Last year we had a little difficulty getting assignments straightened out,” Lewis said.  “We had a chance to peel back the first layer of the onion and saw some disorganization. So, if she could straighten that out, make it efficient and effective for everybody, that would be great.”

KIRO 7 Anchor John Knicely brought the issue to Juneau.

“We're always working on communication efforts,” she said.  “And so, we're going to make sure we're talking to families, we have emails and text messages, we have a lot of information that goes out.  I'm actually embarking on a listen and learn tour over the next several months.”

Your next chance to weigh in is Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Broadview Library, in Fremont, from 5 to 6 p.m.

Juneau told KIRO 7 she wants to hear any concerns and focus on expanding successes throughout the district.

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