The Whole Child Model

History of Health Promotion in US Public Schools

Since the early 1800’s, public schools have been providing health services to school-aged children. Over the years, these services have changed to reflect the needs of students, parents and the community they serve. The early focus of these efforts was on health, occupational guidance, and character development. Over the years, school health programs came to incorporate prevention and detection of diseases, sanitation, intervention in illness, handicapping conditions, and overall health promotion. In addition to these initiatives, in recent years school districts across the country have begun to promote the concept of “Social and Emotional Learning” (SEL). SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The Frisco ISD actively promotes the concept of SEL from kindergarten to 12th grade. (For more information on SEL go to:

Coordinated School Health Model

In order to oversee health promotion efforts, every independent school district is required by law to have a “Coordinated School Health” (CSH) program. CSH, initiated in 1987, is an integrated set of planned, sequential, school affiliated strategies, activities, and services designed to promote the optimal physical, emotional, social, and educational development of students. Coordinated School Health connects physical, emotional and social health with education through eight inter-related components.

Graph of the 8

This coordinated approach improves students' health and their capacity to learn through the support of families, communities, and schools working together. Current research suggests physical and psychological health are prerequisites for academic achievement.

Resource: Coordinated School Health Program: A Guide for Texas School Districts. Department of State Health Services Program, Publication No. E05 – 12889, 9/2008.

The Whole Child Model

The Whole Child Model is a more comprehensive version of The Coordinated School Health Model. According to the CDC 2007, “The Whole Child Initiative is an effort to change the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long term development and success of children. The model focuses its attention on the child, emphasizes a school-wide approach, and acknowledges learning, health, and the school as being a part and reflection of the local community. The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare students for college, career, and citizenship. Research, practice, and common sense confirm that a whole child approach to education will develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students' comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities.”

The Whole Child Model expands the CSH in two ways:

  • It increases the number of components from eight to ten.

Graph of the Whole Child Model

  • It incorporates the tenets of The Whole Child Approach which are:

    • Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.

    • Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.

    • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.

    • Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.

    • Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.

Resource: Center for Disease Control

Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC)

At the district level, The Whole Child Model programming is overseen by The Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC).

SHAC is a school board appointed advisory group of individuals who represent different segments of the community. By law, a majority of the members must be persons who are parents of students enrolled in the district and who are not employed by the district. The SHAC is made up of parents, community members, students, and school staff working together to improve the health of all students and families through Whole Child/Coordinated School Health programming. Texas law requires all school districts to have a SHAC.

The Frisco ISD SHAC is divided into four standing committees:

  • Health Education/Physical Education & Physical Activity/Nutrition Environment & Physical Environment

  • Family Engagement/Community Involvement

  • Health Services/Employee Wellness

  • Counseling & Psychological Services/Social & Emotional Climate

Resource: Texas Department of State Health Services:

The Whole Child Committee

At the campus level, The Whole Child Model programming is overseen by The Whole Child Committee (WCC). Although not required by law, every campus in the Frisco ISD has an active WCC. Specifically, the WCC will develop and implement health/wellness and safe schools prevention efforts on their campus. As is true for the district level SHAC, the Whole Child Committee will be made up of students (secondary only), parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school staff. The leader of the committee is the campus “Site Coordinator.” In most cases the Site Coordinator is either an Assistant Principal or Counselor. The committee will be divided into two subcommittees:

  • The Health and Wellness Subcommittee – Their goal is to address health and wellness related concerns facing staff and students and develop a plan to address these findings. The subcommittee will focus on physical activity, physical education, health education, nutrition services and employee wellness. The Health and Wellness Subcommittee Chair is usually a coach, PE teacher, or nurse.

  • Function of Health and Wellness Subcommittee

  • Inventory of Best Practices for Health and Wellness

  • The Safe Schools Subcommittee - Their goal is to address mental health and stress related concerns facing staff/students and develop a plan to address these findings. The subcommittee will focus on social and emotional issues such as bullying, drug use/abuse, suicide, cultural awareness, school climate, and overall mental health. The Safe Schools Subcommittee Chair is usually a counselor.

  • Function of Safe Schools Subcommittee

  • Inventory of Best Practices for Safe Schools

Student Ambassadors


The School Ambassadors are high school leaders who will work with The Whole Child Committee in assessing the school climate, identifying and evaluating current programs directed at improving student climate and in proposing, developing and implementing school wide programming to address bullying, suicide, drug abuse and other mental health issues. Student Ambassadors will strive to activate and mobilize their peers in ways that positively change individuals and the entire learning community.


The School Ambassadors, along with caring adults, will develop proactive strategies to create a learning community where:

  • Bullying, harassment, hazing, and violence are not tolerated.

  • Students are accepted regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, cultural background, physical appearance, socio-economic status, or academic achievement.

  • Reporting peer abuse, potential self-harm, and other dangerous issues to adults is the norm.

  • Bystanders stand up in the face of injustice.

  • Healthy lifestyles and academic success are encouraged and expected by all.


  • Use interpersonal and problem solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal.

  • Inspire others to reach their very best via example and selflessness.

  • Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior in using influence and power.

  • Act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind.

  • Attend meetings and participate in projects.

Student Ambassadors are selected by staff members on an annual basis. It is up to the discretion of each high school as to how they go about choosing students for this program.

"Establishing healthy behaviors during childhood is more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood."

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