Social, Emotional & Academic Learning

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.

A teacher holds a rabbit as three students pet it and feed it hay.

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

What it is: This refers to the psychosocial aspects of students’ educational experience that influence their social and emotional development. The social and emotional climate of a school can impact student engagement in school activities; relationships with other students, staff, family, and community; and academic performance.

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
Positive Discipline
Zones of Regulation
Little Justice Leaders
Mind Up
Second Step

Health Education

What it is: Formal, structured health education consists of any combination of planned learning experiences that provide the opportunity to learn and the skills students need to make good health decisions.

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.

Health Services

What it is: School health services intervene with actual and potential health problems, including providing first aid, emergency care and assessment and planning for the management of chronic conditions (such as asthma or diabetes). In addition, wellness promotion, preventive services and staff, student and parent education complement the provision of care coordination services. Health services connect school staff, students, families, community and healthcare providers to promote the health care of students and a healthy and safe school environment.

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

What it is: Schools can create an environment that offers opportunities for students to be physically active throughout the school day. A comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) is the national framework for physical education and youth 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

What it is: The school nutrition environment provides students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating through available foods and beverages, nutrition education, and messages about food in the cafeteria and throughout the school campus. All individuals in the school community support a healthy school nutrition environment by marketing and promoting healthier foods and beverages, encouraging participation in the school meal programs, role-modeling healthy eating behaviors, and ensuring that students have access to free drinking water throughout the school day.

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

What it is: These prevention and intervention services support the mental, behavioral, and social-emotional health of students and promote success in the learning process. Services include psychological, psychoeducational, and psychosocial assessments; direct and indirect interventions to address psychological, academic, and social barriers to learning, such as individual or group counseling and consultation; and referrals to school and community support services as needed. Additionally, systems-level assessment, prevention, intervention, and program design by school-employed mental health professionals contribute to the mental and behavioral health of students as well as to the health of the school environment.

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.  

Physical Environment

What it is: A healthy and safe physical school environment promotes learning by ensuring the health and safety of students and staff. The physical school environment encompasses the school building and its contents, the land on which the school is located, and the area surrounding it. A healthy school environment will address a school’s physical condition during normal operation as well as during renovation.

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.

Employee Wellness

What it is: Schools are not only places of learning, but they are also worksites. Fostering school employees’ physical and mental health protects school staff, and by doing so, helps to support students’ health and academic success. Healthy school employees — including teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria and custodial staff, and contractors — are more productive and less likely to be absent. They serve as powerful role models for students and may increase their attention to students’ health.

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.

Family Engagement

What it is: Families and school staff work together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of students. Family engagement with schools is a shared responsibility of both school staff and families. School staff members are committed to making families feel welcomed, engaging families in a variety of meaningful ways, and sustaining family engagement.

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.

Community Engagement

What it is: Community groups, organizations, and local businesses create partnerships with schools, share resources, and volunteer to support student learning, development, and health-related activities. The school, its students, and their families benefit when leaders and staff at the school solicit and coordinate information, resources, and services available from community-based organizations, businesses, cultural and civic organizations, social service agencies, faith-based organizations, health clinics, colleges and universities, and other community groups.

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.