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Challenge Success reps train at Stanford

MADISON – Representatives from Madison schools have been training with Challenge Success, an organization assisting schools and families with youth’s academic, social and emotional pressures.

Challenge Success offers strategies to design lifestyles that are more balanced for students. Organization leaders and delegates identify problems and implement policies related to curriculum, homework, schedules and a healthy school climate. (challengesuccess.org)

“As educators, we must be mindful of the daily stressors our students face. It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in academics; the other pressures and obligations students face can get overlooked,” James Clemens Assistant Principal Allison Miller said.

“We want to produce students who excel academically but who are also well-rounded and healthy,” Miller said. “Participation in this program helps us to focus on the big picture.”

This school year, James Clemens and Liberty Middle School have been participating in Challenge Success. Bob Jones High School and Discovery Middle School were involved last year.

James Clemens team includes Miller; Principal Dr. Brian Clayton; teachers Shannon Friedlein, Patrice O’Donnell, Harris Gessner, Mason Overcash, Rebecca Stinson, Melanie Turner; student Abbigail Willis; and parent Allyson Willis.

Liberty’s delegates are Assistant Principal Dr. Kary Roberts; Media Specialist Sandy Brand; School Counselor Karen Clayton; teachers Tabitha Odom, Thomasena Garner; parent Kristy Ingalls; and student John Mark Ingalls.

These representatives attended training at Stanford University in September 2016. After returning, school teams engaged in various action steps to apply “the idea of maintaining a well-balanced student. The activities and action steps look different at each school,” Miller said.

Last November, Margaret Dunlap, Challenge Success staff member, visited Madison to present the “Well-Balanced Student” session to parents and facilitate teacher training during collaborative day.

“The James Clemens team has had several meetings with our Challenge Success coach to determine and implement action steps to encourage PDF Time (play time, down time, family time) in our students and continue to move toward a more well-balanced student body,” Miller said.

With Jet Advisory, students assessed their time during an average day. The result was “Homework Free Night” with another scheduled April 12.

Student shadowing was another exercise in February and again on April 17. Jet Choir Director Harris Gessner followed a James Clemens student throughout the school day, dressed like a teenager, carried a backpack, ate lunch with the student, completed homework and took an algebra I test.

“Student shadowing (engenders) empathy for teachers and increases awareness about students’ stress and responsibilities,” Miller said. “We’re also exploring alternatives in final exam schedule and looking at conducting exit interviews with some outgoing seniors.”

The team will travel to Stanford for follow-up training on April 22. For more information, visit challengesuccess.org.

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