In the research that led to the founding of Impact Florida, we traveled the state, speaking with district and school leaders to better understand what the key factors were in strengthening student outcomes — or student success.
Along the way, we were fortunate to visit Quail Hollow Elementary School in Pasco County, which had shown great growth in student success (and its school grade) through a deep focus on both improving teaching and learning and improving student engagement.
“If we’re serious about changing lives, we have to look at the whole child,” said Quail Hollow Principal Kara Smucker. “We have to make sure that we have rigorous instruction in our classrooms, but in order for that to happen, kids have to feel safe in that environment.”
While Impact Florida is centered on the Five Conditions That Support Great Teaching, we know that true transformation requires a comprehensive approach, one that combines those academic principles with the social-emotional and “soft skills” that students need to be successful in life. Out-of-school supports — from afterschool programming to accessible health care to mental health counseling and more — are also critical components to ensuring the success of the whole child.
Far too often, these various strategies are put up against one other, with those in power suggesting (whether explicitly or implicitly) that educators have to choose. That false dichotomy does nothing but hurt kids and stifle the success we all seek. Teachers, education leaders, and school systems must take an “all of the above strategy” and simultaneously hold high expectations for all kids while supporting those same children along the way. To do that, every day, in every classroom, teachers and education leaders need our support and advocacy so that they can deliver on those promises to the students they serve.
As Quail Hollow teacher Kelsi Karkosh put it, “There’s not a second where [my students] are not working, … but at that same time, [they hear] ‘I love you,’ ‘I see you,’ ‘I know this might be frustrating, but we’re going to get you there.’ As soon as you have that relationship down, you become one of those people they want to make proud.”
We know great teaching matters in fostering student opportunities for success in life. What if teachers and education leaders could feel the same way, supported in their hard work with tools and data to do their best work in an environment that recognized and coached their growth and development? We began Impact Florida to help realize this vision in Florida. Commit to Impact with us.