Central Academy of Technology and Arts (Monroe, NC). Central Academy of Technology and Arts strives to develop students emotionally and socially. As a school we develop our students through intensive involvement in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, advisory periods, and Culture of Respect, our character development program. Our Advisory program, a school-based initiative, engages teachers in mentoring a group of students from across the academies and staying involved with those students throughout their high school careers. An Advisory committee of experienced teachers and counselors designs activities that promote ideals consistent with our school mission: decision-making, personal achievement (academic and community involvement), problem solving, study skills, communicating with peers and adults, resume writing, and effective citizenship through character development. Activities are differentiated based on grade level and all teachers participate in brainstorming ideas for the year at staff meetings. The Advisory committee focuses these ideas to create monthly advisory activities that coincide with progress reports and report cards. Two to three times per year students meet in Academy-based advisories where they work with students at different grade levels, learn how their academy impacts other areas of study, and explore how their everyday learning leads to their academy’s overall learning goals.
Miles Elementary School (Miles, TX). One school-wide strategy is the implementation of morning yoga. Students are led through a pose daily; each has a purpose (to develop self-awareness, slow down, manage emotions, etc.). Research shows that anxious or stressed children find it impossible to learn. Daily yoga helps create a calm child who is ready to learn. Another non-traditional approach to meeting the needs of the Miles students is the Motor Lab. This designated space is equipped with a mini-trampoline, balance beam, rope, and other equipment. Each station addresses a specific behavior or sensory need. Hyperactive students are frequently sent to the lab to prepare their minds and body for the day.
Hillside Academy For Excellence School (Garland, TX). While Hillside is one Eagle family, the family is divided into four “houses.” All students and staff/faculty are members of a specific house. Individuals receive house points for academic performance, acts of responsibility, acts of kindness, and volunteerism. Houses earn parties based of the number of points earned, which builds motivation to achieve more. Within their houses, students learn to function in and to support a group of all ages, academic abilities, cultural backgrounds, and socio-economic levels. Examples of other meaningful experiences at Hillside are the trips that grade levels take. Fifth graders take an annual trip to camp where they are introduced to hands-on outdoor education the moment they step off the bus. The students work all week on outdoor activities, academics, and end the week with a bonfire and group skits. In addition to promoting academic goals in all subject areas, the trip promotes social and emotional growth through team building activities as well as through the groups to which students are assigned. Fourth graders take a trip to Austin and visit the state capitol and museums—another immersive learning experience. Fourth graders also learn social and emotional skills needed to function within a group.
Challenger Intermediate School (Goddard, KS). Each month we concentrate on a different core character trait. Our teachers work with students on the identified trait throughout the month. Our counselor generates content and lessons, and staff regularly teach the content. At the end of the year, we celebrate our students’ success with character trait awards. All awards are peer nominated and presented at our year-end assemblies. Challenger students are engaged in managing their classrooms, actively working with teachers to create a social contract and a decision-making framework. The social contract is reviewed daily. There is a focus on a social contract word of the week, which is highlighted in our morning announcements, video announcements, and in each classroom. The consistency and visibility of the words and contracts are important in holding one another accountable. To reinforce this, each person who is a part of the classroom signs the social contract.
The staff set high expectations of themselves and all students. On almost a daily basis, we use the CHAMPs (Conversation, Help, Activity, Movement, Participation, and Success) model to review these expectations. This model is used throughout the building, which helps everyone know what is expected in classrooms, the school, and beyond. During PLC time, our counselor and administrator facilitate personal development discussions or host social time in the gym.
Lucy Franklin Elementary School (Blue Springs, MO). LFE staff fully appreciate that the quality and character of school life is based on patterns of stakeholders’ experiences and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. Specific topics have been addressed to affect LFE climate and culture, including health, wellness, and personal safety (e.g., Olweus bully prevention program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education); governance (e.g., shared decision making); relationship building (e.g., Chat N’ Chew); diversity (e.g., Ruby Payne training); behavior management (e.g., Blue Springs Best, monthly classroom recognition, tangible incentives); interventions/enrichment (e.g., RtI, E/LA and math tutoring; extra reading, writing, and computer time); work showcases (e.g., PTA K-5 music performances, PTA Reflections contest, Art and Writing Fairs); and reinforcement (e.g., notes, phone calls, and emails home).
LFE students are challenged to grow academically and are accountable for setting, monitoring, and reporting achievement. Interpersonal and inter-group relations are fostered, and social and emotional skills are taught via a proactive, prevention framework that promotes pro-social development, de-escalation, and problem avoidance using self-regulating and higher-tiered intervention strategies that seek to meet student needs prior to displays of inappropriate behaviors. Social and emotional learning helps students develop fundamental life skills, including recognizing and managing emotions; developing caring and concern for others; establishing positive relationships; making responsible decisions; and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically. Such skills help prevent negative behaviors and the resulting disciplinary consequences.
Hahaione Elementary School (Honolulu, HI). Teachers coordinate physical education opportunities with community organizations. Through the Hawai’i Bicycling League and the City and County of Honolulu, our fourth graders participate in BikeEd Hawai’i. This program enables students to develop the skills and safety knowledge necessary to travel our neighborhoods as bicyclists. As schedules allow, teachers have also partnered with the U.S. Tennis Association Hawai’i Pacific Section to create opportunities to learn basic tennis skills.
The PTSA also coordinates with the Oahu Club to provide the Swim for Life program for our Grades 2 and 3 students. In the six-week Swim for Life program, students attend one class per week to develop their swimming skills and learn about water safety. Students who have limited swimming experience prior to this program are able to swim by its conclusion. Our PTSA further supports physical fitness with an annual Fun Run that promotes running endurance while also raising school spirit.