Unusual Suspects: The People Inside and Outside of School Who Matter in Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Efforts

Forum co-founders Karen Pittman and Merita Irby joined fellow Readiness Projects partners Deborah Moroney and Jill Young to contribute to the Journal of School Health. The article shines a light on how individuals learn and develop across their lifespan in response to the people with whom they interact in settings, communities, cultures, and experiences. They highlight how collaborative research and policy efforts underscore the critical and reparative role of identity‐safe, culturally driven, and relationship‐rich environments—in classrooms, schools, and communities—for the healthy social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of all learners. These themes align closely with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.


Collaborative research and policy efforts, combined with the WSCC model make a strong case to elevate the unusual suspects, the settings and people outside of instructional classrooms who are key actors in creating the conditions and relationships that promote student health and well‐being.


The authors describe promising cases of efforts aimed at bolstering adult capacity to foster student health and well‐being. They also discuss how these types of systemic efforts can move beyond system and program level actors to acknowledge the power of individual‐level implementation.


It is time to recognize the systemic efforts, programmatic opportunities, and individual roles adults have in implementing an ideal WSCC model that is aligned with the collaborative research and policy efforts.