Why schools should nurture parents as well as children
- Prize Category: Community Collaboration
- Format: Panel discussion
- Country: United States of America
- Languages: Streamed live in English with automated captions in Arabic, English, French, Filipino, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.
- Learn more about the Top Ten Shortlisted Schools in the Community Collaboration category on the World’s Best School Prizes website.
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About the school
Westside Elementary is a K-5 community school in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, the United States, whose core belief is that nurturing children and their parents with love and compassion allows young people to thrive. It’s not uncommon to see a mother call a teacher when she runs out of baby formula or families going through the school’s food pantry. At Westside Elementary, the well-being of its students and the people in their lives takes precedence over all else and it partners with a number of organisations to achieve this. The school is one of the most diverse elementary schools in the local area.
When it realised that some parents and caregivers needed extra support with English language skills, it took action by partnering with a local adult education organisation, The Literacy Network, to provide adult classes in English as a second language. Collaborating with the Rooted Family, a group that teaches mindfulness, the school holds parenting classes twice a year for six weeks. Classes teach strategies based on brain development, building healthy relationships between parents and their children, and supporting parents in raising confident children. The school also puts on healthy cooking and active lifestyle classes for families with another partner, the University of Wisconsin Extension – Nutrition department. Partnering with a local church, therapy support groups are arranged for those suffering from bereavement.
Join Westside Elementary school panel discussion on the well-being of its students and the people in their lives takes precedence over all else and how it partners with a number of organisations to achieve this.
Moderator: Patti Lux
Patti Lux is the Communications & Engagement Officer for the Sun Prairie Area School District and has held that position for several years.
Primary Responsibilities: Media Shares district events and news with staff and our community. Manages the district website, and social media and coordinates publications including newsletters, annual reports and the printed community calendar.
Speaker 1: Nikki Harcus
Since 2016, Nikki Harcus has served as a principal at Westside Elementary. She was the Westside Elementary associated principal before that for three years. She has worked in both SPASD and the Madison Metropolitan School District as special education and elementary classroom teacher, an instructional coach and Westside summer school principal.
Speaker 2: Stacy Darga
Meet Stacy Darga, our Site Coordinator at Westside Elementary. Mrs. Darga is passionate about her school and feels so blessed to be part of such a great community. She has been with community schools since the initiative was first introduced in 2012 and was part of the team that brought the model to Westside Elementary and has kept the “train rolling down the track” throughout these past nine years. She feels that she was meant to be in this role and is blessed every day to do this work which leads to improved student learning, stronger families and a healthier community. Stop in and visit her and her amazing community school any time!
Speaker 3: Jamie Racine
Jamie Racine has served as the Community Schools Program Coordinator for the past two years in the Sun Prairie Area School District. The position oversees Sun Prairie Community Schools program currently located at five Sun Prairie schools — Westside Elementary, C.H. Bird Elementary, Northside Elementary, Prairie Phoenix Academy and Patrick Marsh Middle School — and focuses on community partnerships and family engagement efforts.