Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

New strategic plan builds on district's focus on the whole child

Girls reading the Golden Bears A to Z book

As the 2019-2020 school year begins, Upper Arlington Schools is launching a new strategic plan that focuses even more intently on the district’s long-running philosophy of educating and supporting the whole child.

The 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, approved by the Upper Arlington Board of Education in August, builds on the successes of the district’s previous strategic plan. It is the result of the work and feedback of hundreds of staff members, community members, students and professional experts.

“The new strategic plan narrows our focus on two priority areas — whole learning and student and staff well-being, which go hand-in-hand,” said Superintendent Paul Imhoff, Ed.D. “We believe well-being is critical to fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment where our students and staff can thrive.”

“The foundation of the plan is a focus on continuous improvement, and it will truly impact every part of our district,” Imhoff added. “This is the idea of getting better at getting better — in everything we do as a school district.”

Here is a look at these three areas in the new strategic plan.

Whole Learning
“The whole learning area is our core business - academics,” Imhoff said. “We have been a national leader in education for generations, and for our second century we will focus even more intently on this area to ensure future generations of students will be uniquely accomplished and prepared to serve, lead and succeed.”

During the next three years, the district will build on its strengths to provide an even greater integration of rigorous academic content with deeper learning skills through a variety of engaging experiences, environments and relationships.

One example of the real-world learning experiences the district would like to build upon is the Golden Bears A to Z project during the 2018-2019 school year. Dozens of students and staff members at Greensview Elementary School spent the school year writing, illustrating, editing and marketing a picture book celebrating the people, places and traditions that make Upper Arlington such a special community.  The project immersed students in real-world learning experiences, from signing a book contract to marketing it to businesses and consumers across the community.  

Golden Bears A to Z is also part of the district’s long commitment to service learning, with proceeds benefiting the Upper Arlington Education Foundation.

Student and Staff Well-being 

This priority focuses on two areas of well-being - belonging and balance.  Belonging is a person’s feeling of safety and connectedness, and balance is a person’s feeling of harmony between school and personal time. Research shows these basic needs must be fulfilled before students can reach their potential academically.  

At the middle schools, students and teachers have been building a sense of belonging within their buildings through weekly advisory time. These mini-communities focus on social-emotional learning, acceptance and support of self and others, and service learning.  

Similar groups spanning all grade levels exist at several of the elementary schools.  These groups provide time for students to build important relationships with one another and with staff members.

Continuous Improvement

The foundation of the new strategic plan is a commitment to continuous improvement — the idea of building on the district’s strengths to develop a consistent process-improvement system and culture.

“This idea started with our Efficiency Project a few years ago, and now we will ensure it’s threaded through everything we do,” Imhoff said. “This means taking a disciplined and ongoing approach to improving student and system outcomes tied to our strategic priorities and our whole-child philosophy.”

To learn more about the new strategic plan, please visit www.uaschools.org/strategicplan.

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