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New Website Dedicated To Whole Child Framework

Nikki Miller

Nikki Miller, Director of Educational Services for the Marion Central School District, spent a lot of time building a website this fall.

The site,, provides information on the Whole Child Framework, one of the District’s top educational priorities.

In addition to aligning with Marion’s Core Belief that “students are at the heart of what we do,” Miller, who grew up in Marion and has raised her children in the District, has a personal connection with the Whole Child Framework.

“I was a health teacher, so this has always been a part of what I do,” she said. “This is a big part of the reason that I became a school administrator, because it brings together all that I know about learning and all that I know about kids.

“At the end of the day, we are going to make sure that children at Marion are healthy, safe, like school and are prepared for what is next in life due to getting real-life and relevant learning experiences in our District.”

Miller took a few minutes to share more on the Whole Child Framework. 

What is the Whole Child Framework? 

“The Whole Child Framework is based on five tenets, having children be Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported and Challenged because that is the best way to ensure that students are learning. If kids are not healthy, they cannot focus on the academics that they need to do. The Whole Child model has been around since before ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015), but has become a priority since the Federal government signed it into law.”

Can you discuss a little bit about each tenet?


“The Healthy aspect of the Whole Child model does not just include school, but is also about being healthy at home and in the community. It’s a partnership and it’s working together to make sure that kids come to school ready to learn. Part of the school’s responsibility is to educate about what healthy is and to provide those opportunities. This includes making sure that students are active, but also that they have access to healthy foods and working with families to ensure that students have the health products they need, including access to a doctor and dentist. Healthy also means having mental health because mental health is just as important as physical health. We want kids healthy and we want them in school because it cuts down on absenteeism and kids cannot learn when they are not in school.

“Safe includes the physical environment of a school and its physical structure, but also is important in terms of children feeling safe at school. This is where anti-bullying and social-emotional learning come in. It is really working on the climate of the school so kids feel safe when they arrive and throughout the day.

Engaged is really about finding relevance in school. It is about being connected and finding things outside of the classroom like clubs and sports. When students want to be here, they learn better.

Supported is making sure that kids have access to the support that they need to engage in learning. This is where the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) comes in.  We work to make sure students have access to academic supports as well as behavioral supports.”

Challenged is about making sure the student is always ready for what is next, whether it’s college, career or life readiness. What is the next step and are they ready for that next step? It is also about providing real-world learning experiences. Adding our agriculture education program is a good example of this.”

What tools are used to measure personalized learning?

“The District has four critical questions in regard to personalized learning.

  1. What do students need to know?
  2. How will we know if they learned it?
  3. What will we do for students who haven’t learned it and how will we intervene?
  4. How will we extend learning for students who have learned it? 

Teachers can use these questions to help target what students need.”

What things are coming up next?

“This is part of our School Improvement Plan. One of the tools that Marion has been using is a self-improvement survey that assesses each of the five tenets. We have also created a student survey and a parent survey that will both be taken annually.

How can people learn more about the Whole Child Framework?

“I would encourage them to check out the District’s website so they can see all of the different resources available there. They can also follow our Twitter account @MCSDWholeChild.