Every Student Succeeds Act: A Snapshot of State Plans

States are in the process of finalizing their plans for implementation of the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA gives states new opportunities to more fully integrate health into education policy and practices. Several policy and funding provisions in ESSA are aimed toward supporting student social-emotional, physical, and mental health and ensuring that all students attend school in a safe, supportive environment.

Cairn Guidance is launching a State ESSA Plan Webpage for educators, school health professionals, parents, students and other champions to use as a tool to quickly see what their state’s ESSA plan includes in key sections around supporting the whole child; comparing that to other states across the country; seeing the strengths of the plan; and sharing opportunities for improvement or continued advocacy.

The plans are dynamic and changing, as many states have opportunities for public comment or input in the coming weeks and months. We are also monitoring developments in state plans due to the release of modified guidance from the US Department of Education.Please continue to check back as more and more state plans will be added. Also, please reach out to liz@cairnguidance.com if you have feedback, comments or suggestions to your state’s ESSA Plan overview.

Any interest in technical assistance related to these state plans? Examples of what to say at a town hall event? Need examples of specific content to email your Superintendent or Commissioner? Dr. Kymm Ballard is a proud partner of ours working on this project. Contact her for support and technical assistance at: ncpe4kids@gmail.com 

The Energizer Bunny!

Written by Heather Deckard, our new Dove Self Esteem Program Coordinator.

Did you ever see the commercial with the energizer bunny?


The bunny kept going and going due to the amazing batteries it was running on. Well that’s me, Heather Deckard. I’ve been a tireless champion for physical education and wellness for over 20 years. I currently teach middle school physical education in the morning and in the afternoon I serve as the District physical education coordinator. I teach in an urban school district with 47,000 students and have been leading the charge to revive and standardize the physical education programming on the ground and among my peers. As a result, I’ve created systems change in my district that has elevated the importance of student physical education as a pillar of a complete educational experience and curriculum.

I’ve served in many leadership roles in the California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD), including as President in 2014. I have served as a National Ambassador for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and I am a current Let’s Move Active Schools (LMAS) Physical Activity Leader (PAL) trainer. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. Next stop was West Virginia University to obtain my Master of Science in Physical Education- Teacher Education. I chose to attend West Virginia University to see if there was a difference between west and east coast philosophy in physical education and health. Ask me sometime what I found out!

I am extremely excited to begin my role with Cairn Guidance. I first met Director Jess Lawrence at the very first Urban Physical Education Summit during her session on systems change. I will be serving as the Dove Self Esteem Ambassador Program Coordinator. Some of duties include providing support to the 18 selected Dove Ambassadors, representing 14 states, including coordinating travel for Ambassador training events; facilitating Ambassador applications to state conferences for exhibiting and presenting; technical assistance/support for training events, tracking of outreach for reporting purposes, social media engagement strategies; writing newsletter and blog posts even networking/building strategic partnerships with a variety of key associations.

On top of all of this I am a mom of two amazing boys, I play competitive slow-pitch softball and I’m part owner in a Nutrition Club.

Next week... SHAPE America, in Boston!

Next week, 5500+ health educators, physical educators, dance educators will be coming together for SHAPE America's annual convention, held in Boston this year. It's not only SHAPE's biggest annual event, but it's March Madness & St Patrick's Day. Let the craziness begin. 5500+ fellow educators creating, learning, facilitating, presenting, sharing, networking and advocating for the whole child. 

The Cairn Guidance team will be there in full force... we will be exhibiting for the Dove Self Esteem Project, booth #519, so come see us for free give aways! We are also thrilled to be sponsoring the General Session on Wednesday morning-

“Creating a Kinder and Braver World”
Maya Enista Smith will discuss Born This Way Foundation’s (founded by Lady Gaga) commitment to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.  Working together with SHAPE America members, the foundation wants to see a world of people whose decisions and conversations are driven by kindness, acceptance and compassion.

We are presenting the following sessions:
Tuesday, 8am-noon - Systems Changing; Systems Changing simulation: In an engaging skill-building team session, participants will be confronted with realistic decisions and experiences, be compelled to consider new ways of looking at their goals and their work, be challenged to review what they consider legitimate indicators of success, try proven methods for making system-wide changes in their school setting related to their health education, physical education or school health initiative/program, distill their experience into action-oriented learnings and have fun! 
Wednesday, 3:30-5:30pm - Facilitating Role Plays in the Health Education Classroom: Role Playing is an effective skills-based learning strategy in the health education classroom, as it aligns to most of the National Health Education Standards. This session will guide participants through a variety of activities to increase their comfort and confidence facilitating role plays as well as give ideas on how to overcome challenges. Scoring rubrics will be shared aligned to role plays if using as an assessment tool in the classroom.
Thursday, 3-4:15pm - Enhancing Assessment in Health Education: an update and history of the Health Education Assessment Project and how SHAPE America is updating/revising and supporting this resource for teachers.

We have some other commitments- we are sponsoring the health education track and will be doing a 20 minute Dove Self Esteem Demo on Wednesday from 2-2:20 in the Exhibit Hall.

Can't wait to connect with colleagues, friends, cadre members, clients and partners in Boston! 




The Power of Policy

By Liz Thorne

Last week brought two experiences that showed the promise of policy to actualize a positive change to support young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24. Sexual minority youth are at increased risk of suicide attempts- in 2015 29% of LGB youth in the US attempted suicide in the last year, compared to 6% of their heterosexual counterparts (the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveydoes not ask about gender-identity).   

Schools are a really important setting to build protective factors against suicide risk, identify struggling students early, and support those who have attempted re-enter school in a safe and supportive way. Cairn Guidance is currently funded by the Oregon Health Authority to support schools to develop and strengthen their protocols around suicide, and connect staff to an excellent online training called Kognito.

What message does it send to young people when their state, their government, tells them their right to love and marry who they choose is the same as everyone else’s? That they are valued. That they belong.

Last week, I sat around a table with representatives from a large school district in Oregon. We were working through an inventory to assess the presence and strength of their school protocols, identifying gaps and action steps to address the gaps. Every professional sitting at that table brought a different perspective to the ways in which students are supported. Strengthening the systems and protocols will have a direct impact on the experience of students in this district who are struggling, and how they can access support they need. But we also questioned: What are the broader, whole school, whole community approaches to creating school environments that are safe where young people feel valued and loved?

That’s where this week’s second policy news comes in. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics this week found that found that state same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities. For gay, lesbian and bisexual students in particular, the decrease was more pronounced. Rates of suicide attempts decreased from 28.5 percent to 24.5 percent (a 14 percent reduction in suicide attempts). There was no change in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage before January 2015. The effect persisted for 2 years after legalization.

While there are limitations to the study, and the exact mechanisms by which legalization impacted risk of suicide attempt, these findings show the power of public policy to effect change on the lives of young people. One hypothesis is that marriage equality laws reduce stigma- an underlying factor. Reducing rates of attempted suicide were not reasons cited for passing marriage equality. But it makes sense. What message does it send to young people when their state, their government, tells them their right to love and marry who they choose is the same as everyone else’s? That they are valued. That they belong.

Having a sense of belonging is a key protective factor for a host of issues, like substance use, mental health issues, and even supports engagement in school. These early findings reinforce that all policies are health policies. 

Officially Launching Do Something Extraordinary!

Three years ago, Jess, Director of Cairn Guidance, experienced her own call to action. During the summer of 2013, she successfully completed a 23-year-old dream of bicycling 4,197 miles across the country. Solo. In her keynote address, Jess shares the extraordinary journey of preparing and fulfilling a major life goal, and relates her experience to key lessons that empower leaders to create positive change within the public health, sports and education sectors. Jess is able to customize her keynote to benefit diverse audiences, and breathes life into her narrative by sharing photos and videos that incorporate the balance of work and play. She motivates her audiences to create personal calls to action, and has her participants up and moving throughout the hour-long presentation to provide an atmosphere that welcomes movement, connection,
and change. 

In sharing her story, Jess hopes to inspire give a voice to audience members’ own personally and professionally journeys, daring them to do something extraordinary to create lasting change. 

Follow us @DSE_Today
To learn more, visit http://www.dosomethingextraordinary.today/

College Student Creative Expression of Reproductive Topics, Including Abortion

By Samantha Lowe

During my graduate studies at Morehead State I was given the opportunity to further my research and analyze student's perceptions of birth control (birth control was not defined and included all forms of contraceptives) and abortion. This further analysis was presented at the Wilma Grote Symposium for the Advancement of Women at Morehead State University.

With recent political events, such as the magnificent Global Women's March, I felt it was time to revisit this subsection of my research.  What are young Appalachians' views on women's reproductive health? And does holding a politically conservative or liberal point of view influence opinions?

Metaphors for the selected reproductive health items: “Having an abortion is like” and “Taking birth control is like” were coded for use of negative, neutral or positive language. Negative language included violent imagery, while positive language included normalizing the event. Stimuli coded by 6 independent undergraduate students was checked for agreement by inter-rater reliability statistics.

Surprisingly, holding a conservative or liberal perspective had no effect on the amount of violent imagery used to respond to our abortion stimuli. While this may seem shocking as the two parties appear as opposites on this issue; it is the regions lacking sex education programs that lead young adults to see abortions as inherently violent, rather than the medical procedure that they are. The vast majority of participants responded with “murder” to our “having an abortion is like” stimuli, taking this into consideration it is possible that for the Appalachian region the word “murder” could potentially be classified as a Frozen Metaphor (Frozen Metaphor: has been so imbedded in common language that it now viewed as literal language). Below is a table of student responses.

Wait. Systems change, from a board game??

By Liz Thorne, VP of Policy and Programs, Cairn Guidance

I don’t like board games. Even when I was young, not interested. I had friends who would play Monopoly for hours, DAYS even, and I just could not buy in. And Yahtzee. Just shaking dice in a cup and rolling them? How boring!

I had heard about the Systems Thinking Systems Changing™ Simulation from Jess for years.  Affectionately referred to as the “Systems Game.” I heard stories of her facilitating groups of hundreds of participants through the process, and stories of participants that would recall their experience from the process at a conference years later. How could a board game teach participants about the complexities of systems change? I was skeptical.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Systems Game for the first time. In just under 4 hours and through my team’s simulated 3-year grant, we tried to implement a new school initiative in our community. We ran into barriers and made the mistakes that are so often cited in grant reports and peer-reviewed journals. We met resistance in the community that wasn’t expected. We tried to implement before we had gotten everybody on board. We didn’t link our activities to our long-range vision. At the end of our first virtual year, my team thought, “we are never going to get anything done.” How often have we uttered that at the end of a year of grant funding??

Participating in the Systems Game reiterated for me the importance of relationship building. This was a recurring theme in a recent grant application we just submitted focused on systems change in schools. It’s a one-year grant and our main focus? Building relationships and gaining community-buy in. Connecting the work of the grant with the vision of the community and connecting that to what schools are held accountable for.

We are looking forward to facilitating the Systems Thinking Systems Changing™ for grantees of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programs in Savannah, Georgia next week. The participants will participate in a two-day version that allows plenty of time for processing, reflection and action planning for their projects back in their communities. 

Building a National Cadre of Trainers!

Middle School educators! We are partnering with the Dove Self Esteem Project to build a national cadre of health/PE teachers, school nurses and school counselors that work at the middle school level and are interested in helping promote this FREE body confidence curriculum. 

Our goal is to reach 1.5 million youth with this program in 2017. In order to do that, we are building capacity by selecting Ambassadors from many regions of the US in order to reach more educators. To read more about the expectations, stipend and application process, go here. We are accepting applications through February 15 2017. 

Upcoming HECAT Training of Trainers in Washington DC

After a much- needed vacation this upcoming week, I will be facilitating a Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool training for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Twenty lead educators supporting school health/health education will participate in a two-day training of trainers (ToT) to equip them with the skills and knowledge to effectively train, teach, and utilize the tool to write lessons, units, develop a scope and sequence, analyze current curricula programs, align program to health education standards and determine feasibility of implementation of programs. 

We are looking forward to facilitating this ToT again and excited to meet new teachers in the DC area!

Follow along @cairnguidance #DCHealthEd January 31- February 1, 2017

We are hiring!

Cairn Guidance is working with the Dove (Unilever) Self Esteem Program to spread implementation of a middle school curriculum program developed to help young people develop a positive relationship with the way they look (body confidence). The Dove Confident Me Project has been implemented in over 112 countries and Cairn Guidance is charged with bringing the curriculum to young people in the United States. It is generally implemented in middle school health classes and there are two programs available- a 45-minute, single lesson or five 45-minute lessons. See http://selfesteem.dove.us for more information on the program.

The Ambassador Program will be made up of at least 20 educators/health professionals from across the United States. The Ambassadors will be responsible for presenting the program to schools and districts in their region, market the program via social media, newsletters and listservs and presenting/exhibiting at regional conferences. Ambassadors will receive an annual stipend.

The Ambassador Program Coordinator role will be hired as a consultant to Cairn Guidance, Inc. (non-employee status). The duration of the role will be February 2017-December 31, 2017 with opportunities to continue, pending funding. Pay commensurate with experience but range will be $40-60/hour. This contract is up to 850 hours for the time period listed averaging 15 hours per week. There may be potential to expand hours over time.

To read the Coordinator job description and for more information on applying to be an Ambassador go our our DSEP website page here.