Heck-Quaw Elementary School (Belgrade, MT). At Heck-Quaw Elementary, the school counseling curriculum consists of developmentally designed lessons for each grade level (K-4). The lessons focus students on achieving the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for social/emotional development, academic success, and college and career readiness (American School Counselor Association, 2014 Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College-and Career-Readiness for Every Student standards). Lessons include assorted topics: school skills, empathy/caring for others, friendship/bully-proofing, self-worth/self-esteem, emotional awareness and regulation, personal safety, problem-solving/conflict management, and career exploration/transition to middle school. In addition, students have access to group and individual counseling as needed. Mental health supports are also available for students with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). ACE trainings are also held with the staff to help deliver trauma-informed responses and practices across the school.
Lincoln Elementary School (Rexburg, ID). Lincoln Elementary emphasizes physical education, nutrition, and exercise/fitness of students every day. Every class participates in weekly P.E. where students build hand-eye coordination, concentration, body awareness, endurance, and strength. Through an initial grant from Fuel Up to Play 60, Lincoln implements a nutrition and fitness curriculum and activities. Within a yearlong theme, students participate in monthly nutrition lessons. To promote healthy lifestyle choices, the school used other grants to purchase snacks, smoothie blenders, sports gear, and playground equipment. Students enjoy a snack during their nutrition lesson and receive a smoothie the following week. In addition, parent volunteers track the distance participants walk and run at recess. The school purchased a scanner, through a grant, where teachers, parents, and students scan badges to record their miles. Lincoln provides incentives for students at each milestone and a party for meeting preliminary requirements. Each year, a shoe company provides four pairs of shoes to award students with the most accumulated miles. Because of the success at Lincoln, the district has extended the program to other schools.
Willow Creek Elementary School (Centennial, CO). To promote a positive school climate and growth mindsets, Willow Creek focuses on POWER which stands for Persistence, Optimism, We are Flexible, Empathy, and Resilience. The school designates 10-15 minutes daily as POWER Time for activities that teach students a growth mindset and appropriate school behaviors using a common language across the school. A weekly POWER TIME video, produced in collaboration with the principal and staff, teaches and promotes appropriate school behaviors. Weekly POWER TIME videos begin with the ‘why’ of growth mindsets and give concrete definitions and examples of teachers and students demonstrating the traits. Students and staff in all grade levels, classes, and programs produce these videos. The videos are shared with families each week to strengthen the school-home connection. In addition, students are encouraged to recognize and use the traits in themselves and each other as they go through the school day. Three times a year, Willow Creek holds all-school POWER pep assemblies. During the assemblies, students have an opportunity to share with the entire school specific ways that their teachers show POWER. Time is taken to celebrate the achievements of students both in and out of school. Willow Creek’s widespread adoption of growth mindset practices impact students emotionally which impacts students academically. The school encourages students to utilize grit and perseverance to gain skill and knowledge. Staff believe that students can and will learn which fosters students’ belief in themselves, making learning a completely attainable task, with no time limits, as learning is continuous and never ending.
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.