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Clarkston Community School District

From the Superintendent: Honoring the Whole Person

From the Superintendent: Honoring the Whole Person

Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,

Today we announced the idea of homework-free "Well-Being Breaks" for all of our major school holidays (here is that note if you missed it).

Making sure that our students, staff, and families have the opportunity to completely detach themselves from school—physically and mentally—on the days they're off is an important part of our commitment to honoring the whole person. (Leader in Me fans call this "Sharpening the Saw.") In other words, we know our students and staff have lives outside of school, and guess what? We want them to enjoy those healthy, balanced lives!

Our students' lives outside of school are certainly complex, and unfortunately, not always positive. This week, our entire staff was invited to engage in professional learning with Dr. Jim Henry, co-founder and project director for the Western Michigan University Children's Trauma Assessment Center.

Our partnership with Dr. Henry was established about three years ago, and has forever shaped our learning and practices. In his talk on Monday, Dr. Henry shared the flaws of a traditional paradigm (which tends to be academic-focused and "diagnostic") and demonstrated how a trauma-informed model recognizes that childhood trauma isn't left at the door when students come to school. We know that adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) and toxic stress can have lasting effects on behavior and health. (Check out this video about How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime.)

Importantly, Harvard's Center on the Developing Child reminds us that, "Though no one who's experienced significant adversity (or many ACEs) is irreparably damaged, we need to acknowledge trauma's effects on their lives. By reducing families' sources of stress, providing children and adults with responsive relationships, and strengthening the core life skills we all need to adapt and thrive, we can prevent and counteract lasting harm."

Our educators and counselors have learned how to help our students build resiliency and thrive by seeing beyond behaviors to truly understanding the different needs our students present.

This work gives me a glimpse of a stronger school district and community—I know without a doubt that we have the right people and partners to make that happen!

Have a great weekend,

Shawn Ryan
Superintendent of Schools

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.

Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at

Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.