From Joyce Sherry, Dean of Students
“Who is listening to this child?” This question is a touchstone for us at York School, one that we ask regularly about every student on campus. It is a core aspect of our dedication to monitoring our students’ happiness, sense of belonging, work-play balance, and feelings of safety. This week, we continue the feedback loop by sharing and commenting on parent survey responses to questions about student well-being.
Highlights: We are pleased that 94% of participants recognize that the School truly cares about student well-being. Strong responses show that several extracurricular programs help students find work-play balance, including athletics, clubs, the arts, and our advisory program, PATH. Over 90% of respondents believe that students’ individual needs are known and supported. The words and phrases that recur frequently in the comments are belonging, accepted, nurtured, safe, supportive, authentic atmosphere, caring environment.
Respondents also had some excellent suggestions for improvement. One parent mentioned that we could work to become even more welcoming and accepting. This is always a worthy goal. We also heard that we need to be more proactive about seeking out problems for students and providing additional individualized support. Finally, a parent urged us to continually monitor and improve our emergency response protocol.
How will we address these suggestions? The fact is, we’ve already begun. 1) Both through additional grade-level retreats and continuing PATH discussions, we believe we can craft an even more welcoming, accepting community. 2) We have invited student focus groups to give us some insight into aspects of the York community they feel could be improved. This has led to one campus-wide discussion in PATH and provided the seeds for more. We plan to continue an active examination of our culture in order to uncover problem areas, bring them into the light, and solve them together. 3) The Safety Committee has revamped aspects of our lockdown protocol following the recent pigeon shooting situation at a neighboring business. We have also supplied additional training for faculty and staff, and conducted a test of our communication system. Further tests and training are scheduled. Having a safe campus is vital for student well-being and continues to be our highest priority.
For a more detailed reflection on the student well-being aspects of the parent survey, please listen to this week’s On the Path podcast.