Our approach to teaching and learning
We understand the importance of social-emotional support and its connection to academics. In our approach to education, teachers and staff at Academy 360 work with each child for who they are and their unique needs and talents.
School-Based Whole-Family Supports
From the beginning, Academy 360’s vision has been to set a new precedent for how a school partners with its community. We seek to reimagine the role of education in our students and families’ lives through the development of a School-Based Whole-Family Supports model. This is done a number of ways:
- Our school prioritized academics AND mental health support.
- Every K – 5th grade class has a 30 minute dedicated daily block for Social Emotional Learning.
- Our mental health approach focuses equally on supporting students AND caregivers.
- We employed mental health professionals who spent 50% of their time working with high-need students at school and 50% of their time working with those same students’ caregivers by providing services like one-on-one and group therapy and parenting coaching and classes.
- We provide immediate support and healing for children and families when they undergo adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), with the goal to prevent occurrence of many ACEs altogether. This lessening of toxic stress positively impacts student outcomes (graduation rates, the school-to-prison pipeline, long-term health, and the cycle of poverty) over time.
Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC)
According to the Centers for Disease Control, establishing healthy behaviors during childhood is easier and more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Academy 360 plays an influential role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behavior patterns. These healthy behaviors help students learn better!
The CDC recently shared an updated model called Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC). See below about how Academy 360 implements each WSCC component:
Social & Emotional Learning
Our approach: Academy 360 is committed to an inclusive social emotional environment in which all students’ needs are met. The school strives to achieve this by fostering an environment in which students respect one another, feel supported by teachers and administration, and learn in a classroom that is comfortable, engaging and empowers academic achievement and growth.
Each classroom has a daily Crew meeting to ground themselves as a community of learners and build community connection. Our comprehensive Crew curriculum focuses on relationship building, self-regulation, culture development, conflict resolution, social justice, and social skills. Academy 360 seeks to teach students the skills necessary to become productive, happy, and independent citizens within a tightly knit community through the following evidence based curricula:
Random Acts of Kindness
Zones of Regulation
Little Justice Leaders
Our approach: Each week, Academy 360 students receive a Health Education lesson using Health Smart, a health education curriculum aligned to the Colorado Health Standards. Additionally, Academy 360 will expand its health education to both students and families with cooking and shopping classes, opportunities to plant and eat produce from the school garden, oral health education, and other programming as determined by the needs of the students.
Our approach: Academy 360 connects families to well-child visits, oral examinations, vaccinations, and other preventative care services through a partnership with its school-based health center (only 4 miles away) and through other known community services. The school also provides a nurse one day a week for its small student population.
Physical Education & Physical Activity
Our approach: Students at Academy 360 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, which is the daily recommendation of physical activity for children set by the Department of Health & Human Services. Academy 360 has 30-minute recess periods and students receive Physical Education daily.
Nutrition Environment & Services
Our approach: Academy 360 offers a daily salad bar to students, which includes at least two fruits and two vegetable selections. In addition, the school is a part of Denver Public School’s Fresh Fruits & Vegetable Snack Program, which allows students to receive another serving of fruit or vegetable every afternoon. All adults in the building follow the students’ food policy and often eat the same lunch as their students! Through our partnership with Children’s Farms in Actions, students learn about nutrition through the school garden.
Counseling, Psychological, & Social Services
Our approach: Academy 360 has a full-time School Psychologist and Family Therapist to play an integral role in the school’s MTSS process, working with students one-on-one or in small group settings; the school also shares a Social Worker with a neighborhood charter school just a few blocks away. In partnership with DU’s School of Social Work, two graduate students in social work support students 20 hours a week. Additionally, the school keeps an updated resource guide of services for its families, including: mental health services, housing and food assistance, medical and dental services, childcare and more.
Our approach: School leadership strategically designed the school space to provide lots of natural light, views of trees and mountains, classroom colors best suited for learning, and lots of small group meeting spaces to meet the individualized needs of students.
Our approach: Academy 360’s teachers and staff model healthy behaviors and choices for each other and their students. The school supports employees through any behavior changes they seek to improve their own health. Additional staff wellness includes: following the students’ food policy, participating in Wellness Wednesday, and engaging in an annual staff retreat in the mountains.
Our approach: Academy 360 has an open door policy with their families; teachers and leadership staff are in communication with families on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. In addition to quarterly family conferences, families are invited to several Presentations of Learning in which their student presents to them what they have been working on in their classroom. The school has an active Family Teacher Association (FTA) and hosts monthly family meetings, which is an open forum style conversation in which families can converse with members of leadership, ask questions, offer feedback, and more.
Our approach: Academy 360 is a founding member of the Montbello Community Collective inside the Montbello Community Building. The Collective seeks to build neighborhood partnerships through education and community programming to meet the needs of children and their families in the Montbello and Far Northeast communities – truly offering a wraparound services approach. Learn more about our community partnerships.