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Dover Sherborn Regional School District: 2016-2017 School Year Focus


In June of 2014, the Dover-Sherborn Regional Schools launched the Challenge Success Initiative for grades K-12.  The Initiative was undertaken based on recommendations from the DS Regional School Improvement Plan and the School Council Surveys, both sources identifying student stress and anxiety as a priority issue to be addressed.  The Challenge Success program is a nonprofit organization based out of Stanford University’s School of Education that partners with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning. Dover-Sherborn was the first school to launch Challenge Success on the East Coast, although now there are over thirty Massachusetts schools and districts on board. The primary goal of Challenge Success is to help students and the larger DS community create better balance in their lives by


  •  Reducing unhealthy pressures and demands

  •  Promoting a broader definition of “success”

  •  Building resilience among our students   


The program accomplishes these outcomes by implementing proven strategies for effective change, drawing from research data as well as best practices from other schools across the country. We were very fortunate to receive generous funding support from DSEF as well as a private donation each year from 2014 until 2020.  


DS Challenge Success Priority Areas 

  • Evaluating Assessments

  • Exploring Project-Based Learning 

  • Incorporating Student Voice

  • Building Resilience, and Connection, and Empathy among Students

  • Exploring Impact of Screen Time/Social Media/Technology

  • Assessing Homework Practices

  • Balancing Youth Sports/Extracurricular Activities

  • Offering Mindfulness Training

  • Managing Stress of College Admissions

  • Ongoing support for PDF (Playtime, Downtime, Family time) in students’ lives


Sampling of DS Challenge Success Program Highlights

  • Dr. Denise Pope presentations: The Well-Balanced Child and The Well-Balanced Family: Defining Success & Navigating a Healthy College Admissions Process

  • Jessica Lahey presentation on The Gift of Failure

  • Panel discussion on Finding Balance in Youth Sports

  • Changes to scheduling of DSHS mid-year exams

  • Implementation of “Homework-Free Weekends"

  • Faculty assessment of homework with focus on quality and quantity

  • Mindfulness training for faculty and staff

  • Modifications to schedules for Sports/Extracurricular Activities

  • Open Art Studio at Middle School

  • Mindfulness activities offered during lunch and after school

  • Running of CSDS Book Discussion Groups

  • Formation of CS Student Advisory Group

  • Public screening of documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age

  • Dr. Robert Brooks presentation on Raising Resilient Children and Adolescents

  • Dr. Larry Cohen presentation on Principles of Playful Parenting

  • Senior D-S Administration participation in the CS Leadership Training Institute at Stanford

  • Presentations at all four schools and to parents on Internet Technology and Safety for Families

  • DSMS Parent-Teacher Forum Achieving Balance: So Many Options So Little Time

  • DSHS Parent-Teacher Forums Achieving Balance: What’s Working in the Classroom and on the Homefront and Effective Parent/Teacher Communications & Student Self-Advocacy

  • Presentations on Finding Positive Balance in Youth Sports by John O’Sullivan (Director, Changing the Game Project) for student athletes, coaches and parents

  • Rick Irving, LICSW, elementary parent presentation on Giving Your Child the Gift of Confidence, Resilience and Competence

  • Jon Mattleman on The Secret Life of Teens (co-sponsored with SPAN-DS)

  • Lynn Lyons, LICSW, parent presentation on Anxious Kids, Anxious Families: Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children

  • Presentation by Brad Sachs, PhD and Challenge Success Co-Founder Denise Pope: Good Enough Parent, Good Enough Child: How to Have an “Imperfect” Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied

  • Katie Hurley, LCSW, presentation on How to Raise Happy Kids in a Stressful World (K-5th grade)

  • Evenings with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent: What’s Next at DS with Dr. Andrew Keough and Elizabeth McCoy

  • Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed. D. on The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist Angela Hanscom on Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children (Pine Hill parents and teachers)

  • At Pine Hill: Introduction of “pre-cess” to morning routine, successful parent fundraising for playground swings, allowing kids more access to wooded areas around the school, support for outdoor classroom and learning lab project, adding a winter session to 5th grade Hale trip

  • Dr. Chuck Czeisler, PhD/MD presentation on Sleep Matters: K-12 Students’ Changing Sleep Clocks and School Start Times, co-sponsored with the Start Times Task Force and Wellness Committee

  • 2019 Student Survey results used to inform district priorities and areas of focus

  • The Well-Balanced Student with Challenge Success School Program Director Jon Kleiman

  • District-wide “flip” of school start times to allow middle and high school students increased opportunities for healthy sleep

  • Navigating K-12 Remote Learning (Spring 2020) webinar with Challenge Success National to support parents/caregivers during COVID-19

  • A healthy Approach to College Admissions webinar with Challenge Success’ Jennifer Cote, School Program Director and Douglas Tsoi, Parent and Faculty Educator

  • Screenagers: The Next Chapter screening and panel discussion

  • A Zoom Evening with psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour in conjunction with POSITIVE

  • Pine Hill 4th grade  participation in the Let Grow program fostering early independence and competence skills

  • Virtual screening and panel discussion of documentary film Chasing Childhood

  • Online presentation by Jessica Lahey on The Addiction Inoculation focused on substance use and mental health in teens

  • In-person presentation of Minding Your Mind: An Introduction to Youth Mental Health with Jon Mattleman and Wes Woodson

  • Dr. Lisa Damour speaking on The Emotional Lives of Teenagers (in conjunction with POSITIVE)

  • Elementary school parent survey for Challenge Success priority areas

  • Coming in 2024: “I Wish” Campaign K-12;  The Well-Balanced Student presentation; and screening of Screenagers Under The Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs, and Alcohol in the Digital Age (in conjunction with SPAN-DS)

Challenge Success has been graciously funded by DSEF and a private donation. 

For more information about Challenge Success or if you would like to be involved, please contact: Jennifer Debin or Hessie Sheldon at 

Please check out the Challenge Success website at


Challenge Success well-being engagement and belonging for all students