News and Updates
September 30, 2014

Congratulations to the six BC schools and districts that have been awarded grants of $5000 in recognition of their excellent work in school connectedness. They are:

• Cariboo-Chilcotin School District (SD 27)
• Centennial Secondary School in Coquitlam, Coquitlam School District (SD 43)
• Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School  (John Field) in Hazelton, Coast Mountains School District (SD 82)
• Maple Creek Middle School in Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam School District (SD 43)
• Montecito Elementary School in Burnaby, Burnaby School  District (SD 41)
• Okanagan Skaha School District (SD 67)

Selected from 113 applications submitted from across the Province, these schools and districts have demonstrated success using strong school connectedness practice over a number of years.

School Connectedness is about creating a school community where everyone feels safe, seen, heard, supported, significant and cared for.

The grants, sponsored by DASH BC and the BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition, will provide opportunities for BC schools and districts to learn from, and be inspired by the experience of these leaders in school connectedness. 

The grant evaluation team was impressed by the quality and range of the many applications received. Applications were submitted from First Nations schools, independent schools, and 40 different school districts. Three districts (Coquitlam, Surrey and Vancouver) had 10 or more submissions! The dedication and effort of BC school communities to improve school connectedness is remarkable.

Next to family nurturing, school connectedness is the most important protective factor in a young person’s life. –  Dan Reist, Centre for Addictions Research of BC

Many schools’ interest in school connectedness is fueled by their knowledge that the most important protective factor for young people, other than a nurturing family, is the connection to their school. Students who feel connected to their school are more likely to have better academic achievement, including higher grades and test scores, have better school attendance, and stay in school longer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).  They are also less likely to use substances, exhibit emotional distress, experience suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide, or be involved in fighting, bullying, or vandalism. By working on connectedness, schools are setting students up for success – in school and in life.

The range of practices and strategies described in the school connectedness grant applications served as a reminder that there isn’t just one “right” way to improve school connectedness. Some of the approaches that are proving successful for schools and districts focus on students’ passions, project-based learning, school gardens, peer mentoring, strengthening connections to families and the community, transitioning to high school, Aboriginal students, and English Language Learners.  Despite the differences in approaches, there are common threads: fostering caring relationships between and among students and staff; empowering students; and engaging families and communities.

The School Connectedness Grant recipients will be reflecting on their school connectedness practices, and sharing their experiences and with other BC school communities. Watch for updates on the Healthy Schools BC website in the coming months.