Monday, October 6, 2014

Points of Pride: Muscatine's Grant School

Sometimes one simply has to pull up to a school and see what it loudly proclaims to the public to know when you enter you will experience something very special.  This is true of Grant School in the Muscatine Community School District.  When driving up to the building, a banner proclaims – Leader in Me School: Great Happens Here. Principal Becky Wichers is proud of her school and the work they have done to create a community of learners. 

District Demographics:
8 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 1 high school

School Demographics:
Enrollment - 320  PreK-grade 5
Free and reduced lunch - 52%
Staff – 40

The Leader in Me is not a program but a process and a framework for developing leaders.  It provides an avenue to deliver skills to students in goal-setting (academic and behavioral), leadership, and public speaking.  A major part of the Leader in Me process is to create opportunities to lead.  The focus is to build a strong culture that examines behavior in a positive way, and the learning community is taught to be a “bucket filler not a bucket dipper.” 

 The process is clearly outlined:
  • Year 1 – Training
  • Year 2 – Focusing on culture and climate;  organizing student-led conferences
  • Years 3 & 4 – Embedding school-wide leadership roles
Student Tour Guides and Principal Wichers
Embedding the Seven Habits of Success within the curriculum is key to a successful Leader in Me school.  As part of student leadership roles, the building tour was led by Landon, William, and Emilio.  Adrian came into the office to share his learning portfolio including goals and progress.  He proudly explained that his leadership role is to escort two younger students to make sure they get on the correct bus at the end of the day.  In each class, I was greeted by a class representative who shook my hand, welcomed me into the room and asked how s/he could help me.

Each class creates a motto and proudly displays it along with a class picture to emphasize their commitment to the motto they have written.  This helps build a community of learning and a culture of achievement.

There are other initiatives alive at Grant Elementary including the implementation of Iowa Core with the development of common formative assessments and using Engage NY model for grades 4-12 in math.  Rocco is a therapy dog that calls Grant home. 
  What are the non-negotiables found in classrooms school-wide? 
  • A common vision and mission shared by all
  • WIGS – Wildly Important Goals with the identification of priority standards and posting of “I can…”  statements for students to understand expectations
  • Weekly reflections valued
  • Celebrating victories
Principal Withers wisely shared, “If you put kids in a culture of love and acceptance, they will thrive.”  This can be seen in action at Grant Elementary School.

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