Tacoma Whole Child Initiative

Many have heard the statement: It takes a whole village to raise a child. But, it also takes a whole child to build a sustainable school and community.

  • Whole children know how to read, write and solve math problems.
  • Whole children are also socially strong, emotionally resilient, advocators, and self-determined.
  • Whole children know how to build quality relationships with each other as critical thinkers and learners.

How we have started

Through the leadership of the district’s board of directors, and articulated in our strategic plan, building whole children, through social emotional learning is part of our schools action plans. A collaborative partnership, between the Tacoma School District and the University of Washington-Tacoma, is assisting to develop a sustainable school system both now and for the future. 

The TWCI focuses on creating a positive school climate.

We currently have 44 schools – elementary and secondary through a cohort model - focused on developing, defining, teaching, and learning clear expectations to help develop positive behaviors during the school day. All 57 schools will be involved as we continue to move forward. We’re asking questions of staff and students like, “What does being respectful look like in the hallway and in the classroom,” and “What does being responsible look like during lunch time or at recess?”

Where are we now?

The Tacoma School District is in the 5th year of implementation and we are seeing successes within the schools and a decrease in disciplinary issues that result in suspensions, expulsions, and disruptive behaviors. As an example, Blix Elementary (4% decrease 3rd grade/ 7% decrease 5th grade), DeLong Elementary (5% decrease 3rd grade/7% decrease 5th grade), Lister Elementary (8% decrease 3rd grade/4% decrease 5th grade), Lyon Elementary (6% decrease 3rd grade/11% decrease 5th grade), and Roosevelt Elementary (12% decrease 3rd grade/9% decrease 5th grade) have seen overall decreases in suspensions or expulsions from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year.  From the 2012-2013 school year to the 2015-2016 school year, Truman Middle School has had a decrease in suspensions or expulsions by 12% at the 6th grade level and 15% at the 8th grade level. Over the same time span, Mount Tahoma, a high school that reflects the diversity of the Tacoma community, both ethnically and socio-economically, has had a decrease in suspensions or expulsions at both the 9th and 12th grade levels as reflected in the district strategic plan benchmark.

We are also seeing an increase in alternatives to suspensions or explusions at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, such as student conferencing, letter of apologies, presentations by students, parent-student conferencing, and peer mediation to name a few. 

Through partnership, we continue to expand and grow a behavioral health coalition in supporting students who may have social, emotional, and mental health needs.  We continue to build this coalition with community partners such as Comprehensive Life Resources, HopeSparks, and MultiCare