Safe, Connected, and Celebrated: Why and How IDEA Is Prioritizing School Culture and Climate

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a great school?

Rigorous? Dedicated? Both are great answers. There are two more words that are equally important within the IDEA Team & Family.

Joyful and Safe.

One of IDEA’s priorities for this academic year is “School Culture and Climate,” and we define it like this:

“Students learn best and are empowered to thrive when they feel safe, connected, and celebrated. IDEA Schools cultivate school pride and a sense of belonging through school traditions. IDEA leaders relentlessly inspect and monitor to ensure that our schools are safe, connected, and joyful.”

Let’s show you an example. For IDEA Round Rock Tech, home of the Thunderbirds, the key to students feeling safe, connected, and celebrated comes down to sweating the small stuff and always bringing the joy. Oh, and did we mention song and dance?

As second-grade co-teacher Amanda Mcchesney says in the video above, “When students feel valued, loved, and appreciated, they will work hard for their academic success.” Sadly, a recent nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that 1 in 5 children experience symptoms of a mental health disorder (anxiety, depression, or behavioral disorder), and on average only 1 in 4 children get mental health care when they need it. IDEA is committed to supporting scholars’ mental health by having school counselors and social workers available at every campus. IDEA offers a tiered level of support for families and students, and it looks like this: 

  • Tier 1 support for the entire school community is Move this World, our social-emotional learning curriculum* in Texas, Louisiana, and Ohio. Watch the video below to learn more about Move this World from those who enjoy it every day–our scholars! (*In Florida, we focus on state-specific support through our school counselors and social workers.)

  • Tier 2 supports look like School Counselors and Social Workers providing group sessions in lunch bunches and group sessions targeted for specific groups of students.
  • Our Tier 3 supports consist of our Social Workers providing individual counseling sessions based on student needs.

Safety is also an essential component of School Culture and Climate.

As part of our commitment to providing a safe school environment, we focus on different school safety priority areas to continuously identify ways to enhance our practices and resources: 

  • Our campuses are closed campuses. Only IDEA students, staff, parents, and authorized visitors are allowed on the premises. Visitors use a single-entry point (front office) and are carefully screened before being allowed entry. 
  • There is a staff emergency response team on every campus tasked with leading the safety and security strategy for the campus. Team members must undergo 30-36 hours of training on the five stages of crisis management (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery), rapid response to medical emergencies, and behavioral threat assessment. 
  • Our district follows the Standard Response Protocol. We train and practice research- and evidence-based response protocols and daily practices with staff and students throughout the year (including executing a minimum of 23 safety drills).
  • We use the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) when responding to situations involving harmful, threatening, or violent behavior against self or others to determine necessary actions, interventions and partnerships with law enforcement and behavioral/mental health centers.
  • IDEA Public Schools continues to invest in physical security measures to enhance the security of our buildings to meet and exceed local and state school safety requirements. 

Strong School Culture and Climate positively affect…

🎓Graduation rates

💙💛 Healthy relationships and participation in school activities

🎒 Student Attendance and Persistence, meaning students come to school and stay at the same school for multiple years and until graduation​

📖 Academic achievement

And more!

As Bentley Reed says, at IDEA Round Rock, “You will have the most fun…and the best learning experience.” We couldn’t have said it better, and we strive for that same experience for our over 86,000 students across four states!

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