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School District Featured In National Media Campaign

School District Featured in "Every School Healthy" National Media Campaign

By Nancy Cambria
Director of Communications


In mid-May, the youth empowerment organization America's Promise Alliance began featuring a series of videos about The School District of University City’s efforts to amplify student voice, create a social justice mindset, and prioritize health and well-being in the culture of all of its schools.

The videos are part of America’s Promise’s national media campaign #EverySchoolHealthy, an effort to champion social and emotional health in schools nationwide so students are able and ready to learn – because students who are overly stressed from poverty, trauma or other home issues, or students who don’t feel included or safe at school, have a harder time learning.

Whereas, students who feel safe, encouraged, engaged, and empowered while in school are more likely to attend, engage and succeed in school.

America’s Promise is currently posting the SDUC videos on its website and Twitter and Instagram accounts. The videos feature Executive Director of Student Services and Innovation Gary Spiller and Director of Communications Nancy Cambria discussing the work that has been done to humanize the school culture in University City toward quality social and emotional learning.

Topics discussed in the videos, which address “Transforming School Climate Through Restorative Practices and Social-Emotional Strategies” include:

  • Humanizing the school culture (Video)
  • The District’s use of restorative circles for social justice (Video)
  • The University City Board of Education’s recent proclamation requiring social-emotional learning, restorative practices, social justice and trauma-informed practices in its schools (Video)
  • The positive effects of social and emotional practices in our schools (Video)
  • The importance of listening to youth voice (Video)
  • Advice for school districts wanting to build a better social-emotional climate in their schools (Video)
  • The importance of self-care for students and educational staff (Video)
  • The role of community partners (Video)

The full video, posted above, can also be found on the America’s Promise web site. You can also search for the individual videos on Twitter through the hashtag #EverySchoolHealthy. You can also find them tagged on the District’s main Twitter account, @UCitySchools.

“We strive to prepare students for their future, not our past," - Gary Spiller, Executive Director of Student Services and Innovation, in a video on why elevating student voice is so important in our schools


America’s Promise Alliance has been an important partner with The School District of University City. Through funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, America’s Promise Alliance has been supporting acceleration sites around the nation, including in St. Louis, to help specific schools rapidly advance their efforts to create healthy climates that cater to the whole child.

University City is one of five school districts in the region that are part of acceleration work in St. Louis facilitated by the local organization Alive and Well Communities. Alive and Well has been actively working with SDUC teachers, staff and students to address trauma and toxic stress among staff and students, build resilience and create systems and programs for positive change.

Indeed, this past month, Alive and Well Communities was featured on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for its work with SDUC students and others in creating a Student Ambassador Academy.

To learn more about the district’s use of restorative circles for disciplinary issues click here.

To learn more about how restorative circles build community click here.

To learn more about the work being funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in St. Louis to create healthy schools, click here and here.

To learn more about our school board's landmark resolution on social-emotional learning, restorative practices and social justice, click here.

Community circle empty chairs  Restorative circles are routinely held in our District's classrooms to ensure everyone is heard, apologies have been made if a wrong has been done, and community is restored. The above photograph was taken before a community Ubuntu circle was held this winter. Guests were invited to the circle to discuss life in University City and the community's connection to the school district. Community and restorative circles are part of the District's work being highlighted by America's Promise Alliance.