Taking a page from Harry Potter, the Lower School implemented a House System, but there's no Slytherin in sight. This House System is about building character and takes its House names from the school's five character virtues: Compassion, Courage, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility.
Friday was the Big Reveal, when teachers and K-4 students were "sorted" by randomly drawing different colored bracelets from buckets. The bracelets revealed the names of their Houses. Students will stay in their same Houses throughout their Lower School years.
Seeds for the Lower School's first House System were planted during spring break when second-grade teacher Prissy Schoeny and fourth-grade teacher Michelle Newman traveled to Ron Clark Academy, an innovative school in Atlanta, Georgia. The school, which is set up like a Harry Potter castle, has a House System. When they returned, Schoeny and Newman, along with first-grade teacher Meghan Graves, did a test run of a House System with students.
Last year, Schoeny became more aware that some Lower School students lacked the interpersonal skills of making eye contact with a visitor or saying hello. "That is something that should always be expected of our students," Schoeny said.
"Since it's multi-age from kindergarten to fourth, the older children have the opportunity to form relationships with the younger students and vice versa," she said. "When they're transitioning to Middle School, then they'll feel more comfortable because they already know a group of students."
The House System is intended to lift each other up through kindness, empathy, and teamwork with a focus on character and social development. Character points for their Houses can be earned for focus/engagement, effort participation, organization, kind actions and words, teamwork and more. The points will be totaled and revealed at assemblies. House meetings will be held on Fridays twice a month, alternating with assemblies.
Dr. Nikki Bishop-Kallmeyer, Lower School psychologist, said the House System provides uniform expectations of all students. "We want common expectations so that the kids easily know what's expected of them and we're promoting all those skills. We're not just posting our virtues in the hallway. We're acting on them."
Watch for updates about the House System in the fall Connections magazine and on the school's website.
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