Noble Academy Fosters A Positive Mental Health Culture 

By Mai Sue Yang



In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s turn our attention to Noble Academy, a leading charter school in the Twin Cities. This institution has been steadfast in its commitment to supporting students as they navigate the return to normalcy after three years of pandemic-induced isolation. Noble Academy, renowned for its high-quality charter school distinction and robust educational program, is equally dedicated to nurturing students’ social and emotional wellbeing.

Like schools across the nation, Noble Academy was not excluded from the aftermath effects of the pandemic. This became evident with the increased referrals to social workers, psychologists, and external county services. This underscored the need for extra support in this critical area for a school with little to zero behavior issues prior to the pandemic. Noble Academy conducted its survey of students’ wellbeing, and results were consistent with nationwide data, again justifying the need for attention to foster mental health. The school is constantly searching for the latest SEL curriculum and staff training models that address their learners’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs. 

CEO Mr. Neal Thao states, “Noble Academy stays abreast of the latest and groundbreaking research on how educators can support students’ overall well-being. Too often, schools are focused on core academic subjects, and students lose out on the opportunity to build valuable life skills and engage in activities to promote emotional well-being.”

As Noble Academy wraps up the school year 2023-2024, senior leaders reflect on several new programs the school launched successfully. In addition to year-round after-school sports and academic program offerings, Noble Academy kicked off the school year with an early morning music and movement program where students come together every morning to experience upbeat music and learn new dance movements before entering their classrooms. Students especially raved about the Spring Madness Program, where the school rolled out classes in beading, theater, and confidence-building (Girl Talk), to name a few. The highlight of the school year was the school’s Saturday Program, which allowed the school’s newly formed volleyball team to meet and practice weekly, preparing them for a successful first season.

A parent of two students who were on the volleyball team expressed her gratitude to the school for this opportunity, “I noticed a dramatic change in my students’ behavior since their joining the volleyball program. They get along so much better, they support each other in improving their skills, and they look forward to waking up early on Saturday mornings for practice.”

Sports extend beyond physical fitness. They impact students’ social and emotional well-being and nurture well-rounded individuals capable of dealing with different challenges. The school environment is one, if not the most conducive setting, for students to learn these skills and develop a mindset to improve well-being that impacts other areas of their lives. 

Superintendent Dr. Mai Yia Chang speaks genuinely about the school she’s led for 15 years, “My staff and students’ well-being is always at the forefront of my agenda. We implement all programs with fidelity and purpose. Anything we can do to nurture and hone these young minds or build a supportive learning environment, we’re all in.”

Images courtesy Noble Academy.

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