The Smoky Hill Education Service, along with the Kansas State Department of Education and HYPERLINK "https://www.character.org/" \t "_blank" Character.org, announced the 2020 Kansas Schools of Character recipients in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, May 12th. Kansas Commissioner of Education, Dr. Randy Watson made the announcements.
USD 271 Stockton Grade School was recognized as an Honorable Mention School of Character and received a Shifting School Culture award. Stockton Grade School is one of the original HYPERLINK "https://www.ksde.org/Agency/ Fiscal-and-Administrative-Services/Communications-and-Recognition-Programs/Vision-Kansans-Can/School-Redesign/Mercury-7" \t "_blank" Mercury 7 redesign schools in Kansas and social-emotional development has been one of their key initiatives.
Criteria for selection for the State School of Character are based on HYPERLINK "http://Character. org" \t "_blank" Character.org’s 11 Principles of Character, which serve as guideposts for schools to plan, implement, assess and sustain their comprehensive character development initiative. Many school leaders also use the 11 Principles as a school improvement process which focuses on all aspects of school life, including school culture and climate, social and emotional learning (SEL), student engagement and academic achievement as well as MTTS, PBIS, RTI, restorative practices, teacher morale, and parent engagement.
In Schools of Character, adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals, along with parents and community members as partners, to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day. Students in these schools feel safe, respected, and connected to those around them, allowing them to thrive academically and socially and be motivated to give back to their communities.
The State School of Character was Complete High School Maize, USD 266, Maize. Honorable Mention Schools of Character were Beloit Elementary School, USD 273 and Stockton Grade School, USD 271. Stockton uses Tiger Touchstones: Confidence, Creativity, Honesty, Integrity, Responsibility, and Respect, as guiding lights for professional decision-making and to establish student and staff norms and expectations at Stockton Grade School.
Stockton also received the Shifting School Culture Recognition along with Beloit Elementary School, USD 271, Beloit; Cottonwood Elementary School, USD 305, Salina; David Brewer Elementary School, USD 453, Leavenworth; Fowler Grade School, and Fowler Junior/Senior High School, USD 233, Fowler; Sunset Elementary School USD 272, Newton; and Lakeside Elementary School, USD 250, Pittsburg. This award recognizes schools and districts that have developed and implemented an SECD initiative or program for at least one year and are transforming the school culture, district culture, or both, as well as growing student SECD skills. These initiatives or programs must support the Kansas SECD Standards and the school or district KESA goals, the Redesign Principles, or a combination of the above. As a way to build relationships, Stockton implemented Community Groups in the spring of 2018 as a way of helping in the transformation of school culture. The groups meet one day a week for thirty minutes with a mixture of students from Kindergarten through 5th grade.
Stockton Grade School Principal Stacey Green stated, “When I became principal at SGS, my first individual professional development goal was leading a culture change movement in our school and district. I knew I couldn't change the culture on my own—culture is changed when leaders empower others to remove barriers and transform problems into opportunities. Through school improvement processes and specifically Redesign, we have shifted our culture to ‘be the ONE’ for kids, focus on every kid every day, and through staff development, we are intentional to focus on culture, social and emotional learning, academic achievement, teacher morale and wellness, and community and parent engagement. Our students are the ‘why’ behind every decision. Every interaction is critical as we create a school that flourishes. Each staff hire is very intentional and critical in sustaining culture. We aren't in the work for awards and honors; we are passionate about our opportunities to change lives. This school year may have been my most difficult year ever. When it was hard...it was hard! When I pause and focus on Dr. Ross Greene's philosophy of ‘kids do well if they can’ I know that we have the right people in place: our unbelievable staff, supportive parents, outside resources that are always on call, and many accountability partners to guide us through change. In life, we never ‘arrive’ and we follow this same mindset at SGS. A good day, an award, a nod from an outside agency isn't what we strive for, but it fuels our passion to continue developing the collective work as we make changes through our design thinking model for change.”
(The HYPERLINK "https://www.smokyhill.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/About%20Us%7CHistory%20/%20Benefits%20 /%20Organization" \t "_ blank" Smoky Hill Education Service Center was organized July 1st, 1990. It is a consortium of more than 50 school districts in 25-counties, formed to cooperatively provide a variety of educational services to its participating members in a more cost-efficient and beneficial manner.)