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Elements of Success – Four Elements – One World

Coles Elementary School - Manassas, VAColes Elementary School, Manassas, VA

Coles Elementary has a diverse student body, representing 13 different languages and 15 countries. The staff of 60 is also diverse, representing 13 countries and nine languages.

School staff strongly believe that building relationships, providing opportunities for student leadership, teaching students life skills, and facilitating a sense of community are important strategies in engaging students in their learning and providing a positive learning environment. Because of this, the school created a program called the “Elements of Success—Four Elements One World” that is a large component of the school culture. Students, school staff, and bus drivers are assigned an “element” (consisting of the four natural elements: Neptune representing water, Ignis representing fire, Makani representing air, and Terra representing earth). Students, staff, and teachers are grouped together until students leave the school.

Each element works together as a team to be responsible, respectful, trustworthy, and flexible, and to display perseverance and make good choices. Staff select fifth graders to serve as Student Element Leaders. Staff provide the Student Element Leaders leadership coaching, and they lead monthly element meetings focused on life skills, developing relationships, and goal setting.

The school pairs the youngest students with fourth graders, and first graders with fifth graders, providing older students with additional leadership opportunities. Quarterly assemblies celebrate how the elements have demonstrated responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, flexibility, and perseverance.

Coles Elementary’s program “Elements of Success” has taught students about the impact of individuals on others and the need to contribute positively to the success of our school community.