United for Wellbeing: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Increase Social Cohesion and Student Wellbeing in an Ethnically Diverse Rural School District
Across the United States many rural communities rely on migrant populations for agricultural labor. Migrant families bring with them children who must be educated and made to feel part of a larger school community. Increasingly rural communities and the school districts that comprise them struggle to ensure that all students have equal opportunities for educational success and improved subjective wellbeing. Educators have expressed concern that communities themselves are dealing with increasingly divided populations wherein majority and minority populations do not appear to interact effectively or work collaboratively. This paper will look at the struggles of migrant families, the theory behind social constructivism, social cohesion, and group efficacy, and the importance of student wellbeing. This will be done through the lens of positive psychology as bedrock on which to build a more cohesive community. An Appreciative Inquiry perspective will be taken to determine methods for increasing social cohesion in order to improve the wellbeing of the region of Southern Chester County, PA. The final product will be a proposal letter initiating the development of a possible 2-3 day Appreciative Inquiry summit, combined with proposed educator-only trainings, to be implemented as a kick-off to the creation of a united Southern Chester County.