Still adjusting to a new way of living and learning brought on by the global pandemic, Las Cruces Public Schools’ learning community continues to face challenges.  Navigating the complex matrix of vaccinations, mandatory and voluntary testing, COVID exposures, quarantines, hybrid, live, and remote learning is a new way of life that no one could have ever anticipated or fully prepared for.  How the community responds and persists will shape outcomes for years to come for young learners, which is why LCPS has launched a study to assess the psychological and physical safety of students, staff, and parents.

A tool at the disposal of school leadership moving forward is positive psychology.  By assessing and strengthening any gaps in the community’s sense of safety, LCPS has the opportunity to address those gaps and carry forward so that the future will be filled with open hearts and minds, resilience, determination, and – most importantly – hope.  Positive psychology teaches us to emphasize strengths, practice social emotional learning to increase positive emotions, find acceptance of what is happening now, and develop a sense of optimism for the future.  This all begins with a clear snapshot of how the community is feeling in the present moment, with the intent to strategically build a positive path forward based on what we know in the present.

With pandemic relief funds at the district’s disposal to help mitigate negative outcomes resulting from the pandemic, it is important to collect data on how the community is feeling.  If gaps in psychological or physical safety exist for students or staff, funds can be leveraged to bolster supports in any vulnerable areas.  Without valid data, decision makers are left to analyze global trends and make educated guesses about what learners – and the people who support them – need in order to be successful in this new age of education.  That is why LCPS has collaborated with Hanover Research to manage the design, administration and analysis of a school climate survey.  The survey is designed to measure four main constructs, including: School/Building Environment, Academic Environment, Social Environment, and Stakeholder Inclusiveness.  Knowing where students’ attitudes toward learning lie, if they feel emotionally supported, safe, and hearing the voice of our stakeholders will inform strategic decision making for future initiatives.

Hanover Research will maintain all information obtained from the survey on a private basis.  It will only be reported to LCPS in a confidential format.  Students in grades 6 and above, all parents of students in grades pre K through 12, teachers, other staff members, and stakeholders are urged to participate by going to: bit.ly/Lcpsclimate to complete the survey.  It is the hope of LCPS that in partnership with our learning community and stakeholders, schools in Las Cruces will continue to grow into warm, positive, enriched, safe learning environments where the strengths and character of our children will be nurtured.

Amy Himelright, LPCC is the Director of Academic Counseling and Behavioral Health for Las Cruces Public Schools.  She can be reached at ahimelri@lcps.net