positive school culture

Igniting Every Student’s Spark of Genius

Guest post by Stephen Spahn

As chancellor of Dwight School for the last 50 years, I have had the distinct privilege of witnessing some of the more dramatic changes in education. As the world continues to be transformed at an unprecedented pace, we are living in a new age of educational enlightenment, challenging educators to assess, rethink, and innovate curricula as never before. (more…)

iCARE, Part Three: Helping Troubled Students Care

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to iCARE, and last week, I shared how this initiative has helped to unite our school community. In this final post, I will explore how iCARE has changed the way we work with our most difficult students.

In 2014, I inherited a unique sophomore class. Within the class there was a particular group of sophomores who were regarded as a notable challenge and needed a lot of TLC. As I got to know them, I realized that only a few of them were truly challenging and the rest were just looking to carve new titles for themselves among their peers. I hadn’t realized it yet, but iCARE was to become a saving factor for many of them and their sophomore academic and social careers. (more…)

iCARE, Part Two: Uniting Our Community

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

In last week’s post, I discussed the beginnings of the iCARE program at Colonie Central High School and how it has given students an opportunity to make a difference in our school. This week, I will share how iCARE has grown and united our entire community around a variety of events that aim to serve others and build a positive culture. (more…)

iCARE, Part One: Students Making a Difference

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

In 2011, I attended a character education summit at Sage College with my fellow associate principal Chris Robilotti. After attending a seminar on cultivating stakeholder ownership, we walked away with a new mission to take our successful middle school bullying prevention program and build it in the high school setting.

Using the information we gathered at Sage, Chris and I plotted a course (more…)

Are Your Students Life Ready?

Guest post by Akil E. Ross

As principal of Chapin High School (CHS) in South Carolina, I’m always trying to promote ways to make our students college and career ready. After all, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) calls for our students to meet higher academic standards and for us to help them find success beyond high school. But I often find myself wondering: Does college and career ready mean life ready? Regardless of which path our students take, just possessing the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and a career is only one part of the equation to becoming a productive and happy human being. In addition to making our students college and career ready, my goal is to make 100 percent of our students ready for life.

What does it mean to be life ready, and how can schools prepare students? (more…)

Tips for Building Meaningful Connections With Students

Guest post by Kelly Parker

South Meadow School (SMS) in Peterborough, NH is guided by our vision: “A caring, cooperative, and respectful community of learners.” We are a family and work hard to instill values that will help students realize this vision by providing the support they need to be successful. One of the most important ways we guide students is by helping them connect to our school and one another in a positive way. We use the following guiding principles to nurture relationships and develop connections for all members of the SMS community: (more…)

The Happiness Advantage: Promoting Positivity in Schools

Guest post by Bart Peery

In January 2014, while shopping in our local Walmart, I received a voice mail from the county sheriff’s office. Assuming that it had to do with our school, I went to the school to call them back. When I returned the call, my life was forever changed. The officer told me that one of my students had taken her life. I remember sitting alone in my office sobbing, not knowing what to do next.  (more…)

Student Voice: The Most Important Sound in the School

Guest post by Bobby Bennett

In 2012, I became principal of my alma mater—only the second alumnus since the 1890s to have such an opportunity. No pressure! Eager to begin the work of serving my community and school improvement, I held a series of meetings with staff and the school community over the course of the first three months. These meetings would shape our work for the next five years. In fact, what we learned and put into practice not only yielded academic success, it transformed the culture of our school. (more…)

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Crafting Meaningful Conversations With Our Stakeholders

Guest post by Chris Koch

A colleague with whom I’d shared a classroom once asked me what the toughest part was about being an administrator. The look on his face revealed his surprise at how quickly I answered, “Having meaningful conversations with staff, students, and parents.”

Several years ago, I was in a unique position. I was finishing my 18th year as a classroom teacher when my school hired me to take over as assistant principal. Despite widespread support, I now found myself having many conversations, some difficult, with the staff, students, and parents whom I had worked alongside or taught just months before. Over time, I began to recognize the importance of making sure that each conversation was mutually beneficial and acknowledging that these conversations were a critical component in building lasting relationships.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned (more…)

Building Community and Literacy: One Book, One School Program

Guest post by Maureen Doyle Kemmett

Compelled to increase literacy skills in students and build a stronger school culture, our leadership team at Furnace Brook Middle School (FBMS) in Marshfield, MA, initiated a One Book, One School (OBOS) program in 2013. After spending the better part of a school year forming a literacy committee, researching OBOS programs, and (more…)