• Leading By Example

 Lois Barney

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Lois Barney

Austin Road Elementary

ARE Jaguars set out on an ambitious goal to collect four hundred college and career t-shirts from colleges across the nation. We kicked-off the new school year with a tailgate experience for our scholars to begin planting seeds toward a positive growth mindset and to promote college and career goals for their future. We strongly believe students are never too young to start meaningful conversations about their future. Who would have imagined the “Connectivity” we would establish through this project?  With the assistance of partners, from various colleges near and far, we were able to give students in Pre-K through fifth grade a college or career t-shirt. Curriculum night allowed teachers to share learning goals, grade level expectations and award our scholars with their very own college t-shirt. The buzz, from students and parents, was amazing! We heard students saying “Do I get to keep the shirt? , What college are you going to? My granddaddy was in the Air Force? and I’m going to college?” We heard one sweet five-year old tell another student he was going to college, and his classmate was going to the same college because she was wearing the same shirt.” How cute is this? Students wear their shirts each Friday and it serves as a consistent reminder to dream big. Parents expressed their gratitude for our efforts to invest in the success of our students, but the story doesn’t end there. Our teachers made connections to curriculum standards. For example, a group of third grade students identified the Georgia region where their college is located, set goals, and wrote personal narratives about their future dreams. Our fifth grade students will participate in a local college tutor. After reflecting on all of these success, we would say, "Mission Accomplished". We developed relationships with all stakeholders, which resulted in Connectivity at its Greatest!

 Lisa Travis

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Lisa Travis

Cotton Indian Elementary

One of our initiatives over the past four years has been the implementation of Leader in Me. Engaging our students in learning the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in order to provide them with tools to become productive members of our school community and the community at large. Over the course of our journey, we have been equipping our school community with ways to enforce, reinforce and live by the 7 Habits in their home. On Thursday, September 19, 2019, we invited our parents/guardians to take part in a formative session as well as hands on learning of how these 7 Habits are a part of what we do daily.


Our Family Night began with an overview of how we implement and infuse the 7 Habits into our daily routine through student leadership roles and student goal setting. This informative session allowed parents to hear first hand, our expectations of promoting student leadership and how this expectation can be transferred to every home in our school community. Parents/Guardians then took part in authentic learning opportunities that showcased how interactions and activities encompass the 7 Habits. These activities included: Stress Relievers, Charades, Egg Drop, Puzzle Mix-Up activity, and "Telephone". We ended the night with all attendees coming back to the cafeteria were we discussed their experiences and then moved on to families creating a vision board based on their beliefs as a family aligned to the 7 Habits. We will reconvene in January to create new vision boards, as we believe that once you create a vision, positive things begin to happen.

 Dr. Sherri Greene

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Dr. Sherri Greene

Dutchtown Elementary

Last week, three first grade students, coming from the cafeteria, walked by. The first thing I noticed... they were all holding hands. Their friendship warmed my heart. The second thing I noticed was two of them wore the same hairstyle I wore when I was in the first grade. Yes, even then... : ) I quickly escorted them to my office to show them my ‘1970-something’ picture. This is our means of connection beyond me serving as their Principal, they see that I too was a once a little girl who wore the hair puff style!

Moments like that remind me of how much I love to connect with my students. I love the smile I see on their faces when they hear me call them by name as they come in the building. I compliment our students so much on their shoes, clothing, and the like, that they have begun to compliment me right back. Students have opportunities to eat lunch with my assistant principals and me, engaging in conversations, in what we like to call "Pup Talks" (we are the bulldog pups).

This is what we do at Dutchtown Elementary-connect with students, families and staff members on interests, hobbies, life events beyond instructional practices. We give hugs, celebrate successes and support the difficult times just to show that we care. Just send an email asking for a safety pin or contact solution and the request is filled before you can press ‘send.’ That is what families do, we love and care for one another at Dutchtown. As the leader, it starts with me and I intentionally seek opportunities to celebrate staff’s personal milestones like marriages, new babies, new homes, as well as comfort during loss and trials, and for this, I believe that our staff share in supporting one another, which of course reaches our students.

 

 Dr. Malik Douglas

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Dr. Malik Douglas

Eagle's Landing Middle School

When I came to ELMS, the word I continuously heard was consistency. The staff and parents wanted consistent practices that contributed to high academic standards and a positive climate and culture. To provide consistency, we have continuous communication with our parents and meetings with our students that outline our academic expectations. We also implemented our Energy Bus initiative and asked everyone that enters into ELMS to be a part of positive energy and to be one of our drivers for the Energy Bus. This helped with improving our culture, academic practices and restoring stability and confidence in high academic achievement at Eagle’s Landing Middle.

 Jennifer Laughridge

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Jennifer Laughridge

East Lake Elementary

Connecting with others is vitally important in all aspects of life, but especially in a school community. If students and staff do not feel connected, they do not want to come to school. If parents do not feel connected, they are not eager to participate in their child’s education. We need parents to be involved and staff and students to be present to make a difference in a child’s life. It is my belief that as the building leader, I am responsible for establishing positive school connectivity through my actions, deeds and words. It is also my belief that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, I constantly look for ways to connect with my school community through my actions. Each day I prioritize my “duty” assignments because it is important for the school community to know that I am in the work with them. Whether it is greeting students in the morning with a warm hello, doing morning announcements, talking with students in the cafeteria during lunch, monitoring fifth graders on the playground, or calling numbers in afternoon car line. I believe my presence sets a standard and a tone. I also send a calling post each Sunday to update our community on school happenings, post things on social media, send positive emails, make positive phone calls, and send a monthly parenting flyer to encourage parents to be involved in their child’s life.


While all these actions serve to promote connectivity, my favorite way to connect with students is through reading. I believe all students should be read to by an adult every day, kindergarten through fifth grade. I believe in it so much that I implemented a designated oral reading time into our master schedule. All teachers are expected to read a novel orally to their students during “pack-up” time from 2:05- 2:20. To be a part of this initiative, I have a schedule for myself to visit a classroom each afternoon to read to students. This is by far my favorite time of the day. When I go in to classes I get to be a teacher again. It reminds me of why I pursued education in the first place. I pull out reading strategies and talk about different aspects of the book. The students are excited for me to be in their classroom and are surprised that I know so much about reading. One student was so engaged and connected that he said to me, “Mrs. Laughridge, you should be a teacher.” He was amazed when I shared that I once was. Connecting with students is why I love what I do!

 Kevin Van Tone

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Kevin Van Tone

Locust Grove Middle School

This year we participated in the Sandy Hook "Start with Hello" campaign. We had a week of activities right before Fall Break.

Sandy Hook Promise’s Start With Hello Week Call to Action is September 23–27, 2019. Since we are on Fall Break at that time, we will be recognizing Start With Hello Week next week. Start With Hello brings attention to the growing epidemic of social isolation and empowers young people to create a culture of inclusion and contentedness within their school, youth organization and community.

Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely or treated like you are invisible. Young people who feel this way may pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development, or choose to hurt themselves or others. Start With Hello empowers students to end social isolation by teaching them to recognize the signs of loneliness and social isolation, and to help others feel included. This starts with a simple “Hello!” Our goal is to teach our students the skills they need to create a culture of inclusion in their school and community.

Our Schedule of events is listed below. We look forward to promoting inclusiveness at LGMS!

ALL WEEK – Beta students will be in the car rider line and in the bus loop welcoming all students to LGMS.

MONDAY – Staff and students: WEAR GREEN

Monday during lunch - Beta students will have a table set up for students to sign a paper chain link. One side will say “I will say hello to someone new.” The other side the students write how they would say hello to someone. We will link the paper to make a chain to hang in the cafeteria for the week.

LGMS produced a short video based on one of the campaign weeks example.

LGMS Start with Hello Video https://youtu.be/r9JMuddGo9s

-LUNCH – Students can sign a pledge to say hello to someone new.

THURSDAY
Students will identify their trusted adult at LGMS by writing the adult’s name on a poster.

 

 Toni Obenauf

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Toni Obenauf

Flippen Elementary

I have 23 new staff members in my building this school year. It has been important to me to make sure all faculty and staff feel welcomed and supported from the beginning to the end of this school year. I provided school supplies to each person based on the needs of their position when I welcomed them to FLES. I also utilized team building activities during pre-planning faculty meetings, and I will continue these activities during each faculty meeting this year.  I walk around the building each morning to speak with staff and see how they are doing. I also like to learn more about them and their families this way. I think making that personal connection helps them feel more comfortable when they need to come to me for something. There are other activities I have planned or I have asked others to plan in order to build connectivity with the entire staff such as: a tailgate luncheon where everyone brings food to share, going to a Friday night Hawks game together with other family members, a skate night competition with staff and students, and other events to come this school year. The atmosphere in my building has changed drastically this year as compared to last year. I think there are several factors that contribute to this change but I am also making a specific effort to build rapport with everyone this year in my building. 

 Sean Thompson

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Sean Thompson

Mt. Carmel Elementary

One of our greatest accomplishments that has been completely student-lead and truly reflects the connectivity and capability of our students involves the redesign of our school courtyard. Last year, we held school elections for a Student Council that consisted of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Following their election, we had our first brainstorming session and what resonated to me the most was how aware our students were of both school and community needs, and how willing and eager they were to start problem solving as a collaborative of students on issues inside the school and out. One area that they decided to tackle was our courtyard leading to our school playground, which consisted of dead shrubs and straw that was both unsightly and slightly depressing. We linked them up with Russell Camp from our wonderful Facilities and Maintenance Department, who assisted them with the blueprint design of the students' ideas and graciously provided all of the plants and materials to the school without additional charge to our organization. The students researched and selected plants and materials, and also decided the use and purpose of the newly designed space for other students and teachers at Mt. Carmel Elementary to use in the future. In addition, they helped to organize and provide support for charitable fundraising efforts, like a Pink Out event for Cancer prevention and also helped with promoting and marketing events within the school. The collaborative sessions that I had with this group was a true personal awakening to the limitless potential in all of our students, and served as a reminder that students at all levels possess the capability to organize and implement positive change in our school and our community.

 Amanda Cavin

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Amanda Cavin

Ola Elementary

The Ola Cluster has a reputation for strong connectivity, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to join the community as principal of Ola Elementary. Even in the largest elementary school in Henry County, we make building relationships with our stakeholders top priority. I am so fortunate to work alongside a phenomenal team of educators who intentionally spend time making connections with students, staff members, and families to have a high impact on our students’ success.

We start and end each day by greeting every student and family member with a smile. On one side of campus, one of our assistant principals, Lindsay Boyle, and a team of staff members greet bus drivers and students as they arrive or depart campus. At the front of the school, I, along with Karen Maddox, assistant principal, and a team of staff members, greet families and students as they arrive at school by car. We especially love when our families roll the window down to provide feedback or just give us a high-five! Inside the school, our office team and teachers greet students by name as they enter the door to the school and classroom. This first point of contact has been a great way to get to know our students and help them turn their day around if they arrive with the “blues”.

During the day, we make time to get to know our students and celebrate their contributions to our community. Teachers and staff recognize student leaders and outstanding “Colts” by nominating them for Positive Office Referrals. When students are recognized, we call their family members to read the referral made by an OES Team member, give them a treat (Who doesn’t love free ice cream?), and post a picture on our Instagram page so that all members of our community can celebrate them as well. Our teachers even nominate their colleagues for Positive Office Referrals as well. Just as we do with students, we contact our staff member’s family to share the great news and celebrate them with a small gift (We love jean passes!).

We have also scheduled time with our students to make meaningful connections. Each week, I include a digital form for our teachers to schedule a read-aloud time with an administrator for their class. Mrs. Boyle, Mrs. Maddox, and I find this experience to be time well spent with our students. We love the opportunity to model effective reading strategies and an enthusiasm for reading for our students!

Most recently, our lunch team implemented a “Walk and Talk” time for our 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students. After the first 15 minutes of lunch, we allow our students to go outside to “Walk and Talk” if they are finished eating. This has been a great time for us to connect with our students through conversation while also enjoying the outdoors. Although, we may have to consider extending this opportunity to our students in Kindergarten through second grades as they have been campaigning hard to participate in “Walk and Talk” as well. Our kindergarten students, in particular, have some strong skills for negotiation!

Although there is always room for improvement, these are just a few ways that we have found beneficial in making meaningful connections with our Ola stakeholders. We could not be more proud of the great work happening in our community!

 David Shedd

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David Shedd

Ola High School

Three years ago we began identifying students who were at-risk for not graduating high school with their cohort and developed an informal mentor support system to connect these students with caring adult in our building. Our team would comb through course data, Milestone scores, Lexile, behavior and attendance data to narrow our search as we prepared for "adoption day." We create a baseball trading card with a color picture of the student on the front and schedule, birthday, and other important information on the reverse. All staff members - teachers, counselors, secretaries, administrators - are then invited to adopt a student. The simple act of connecting an adult with a student who struggles in school is a powerful way to change a child's trajectory.

My personal story is with Cameron and when we connected he had already failed eight courses during his first three years at Ola and was certainly not on the path to graduate with his class. We met informally in my office every week or so just to see how he was doing and to ask how I could support him. We would talk about classes, what he was going to do on the weekends and breaks, and what his hopes and dreams were for a future beyond high school. He wanted me to just keep pushing and not let up. I will never forget the day Cameron received his Economics EOC grade and asked his teacher to leave class. He came running into to my office to tell me he made a 79 and he was going to graduate! Then, on a hot May evening, with tears in both our eyes, I had the privilege of handing Cameron his Ola High School diploma.

 Shaakira Akbar

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Shaakira Akbar

Red Oak Elementary

Coming into Red Oak Elementary as a new principal, one of the first things I knew I had to do was to reestablish trust, relationship, and connectivity within the community. I interviewed and met with teachers, parents, students, and community members to try to get an idea of what was needed and the best avenues to make the needed connections. The theme I heard was that the community wants to be a part of the school, the parents want to help and know what is going on in the school, the teachers want the support and trust of the parents, and the students want to enjoy the school. In my mind, these are not individualized desires, with the right programming these desires can overlap and marry to create a system that supports all stakeholders.

Immediately I decided to send home weekly communication folders. These folders connect the school and home because parents know that each Wednesday they will receive a folder of information that lets them know what is going on school wide. Parents and teachers know that they may receive information from teachers on other days, but any information that is connecting the home and the school will come home on Wednesday. In addition, I make a point to call all parents back and address all concerns as soon as I can. The longest it will take me is 24 hours. I do not hide from parents. I connect with them anytime I can to build relationships and offer positive customer service, as I understand this becomes the brand of our school. I also encourage (require) teachers to communicate with parents. I purport that the more information you share with parents, the less they desire and interrupt our day in order to find out. Also, I send a weekly parent memo to all parents in the school to share announcements and provide them with upcoming dates and important information that is happening in our school. Parents know they will receive this memo weekly on Sunday.

Another requirement is that all teachers maintain an updated web page, and the media specialist keeps the school web page updated. This ensures that parents and community have the opportunity to receive information about the school at all times. Further it shows the community that we are organized and diligent about the work that we are doing with students.

Upon entering Red Oak elementary, there was no PTO established at this school. I immediately contacted parents, through my Popcorn with the Principal events this summer (opportunities provided for families to come meet the principal and assistant principal). I found that parents were interested, but they did not want to take on the job that running a PTO can be. Therefore, I came up with the idea for each officer to have a co officer, so all of the work does not lie with one person. Parents liked this idea, and began to volunteer. Needless to say, our first PTO meeting is October 17, 2019!

Finally, I have made sure that we have many activities that are sponsored by the school to establish connections, not just with us, so families have the opportunity to connect with each other. On the first day of school, families walked into an actual circus. So many parents were in awe, and told me that they felt so much better about dropping their children off in a place that obviously wants them there, and values them enough to go to such lengths to welcome them. Curriculum Night was a success, especially since parents had a chance to go on a scavenger hunt with their children. The scavenger hunt allowed the parents to get to know the school building, but they also got the chance to spend quality time with their children. Grandparents day was amazing! Families got the chance to attend an organized event, which allowed them to eat, shop, and take a photo with their loved ones. Grandparents and parents were so pleased that they sought me out just to tell me how great things were. We are planning several other events this year to continue our work of connecting with the community.

 Cynthia Jewell

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Cynthia Jewell

Stockbridge Elementary

SES has the largest ELL population and I think it is very important to connect to the various ethnic groups that exist within our school community. We celebrate the various cultures and host a day for families to present their cultural backgrounds during our annual Celebrating Families Dinner. Parents sign up to host a table and bring authentic artifacts from their host country including, but not limited to food, money, religious statues, clothing, etc. I have also attended birthday parties and a house warming event for a family of Indian descent. I attended soccer games for students of Hispanic lineage. Attending these events was very humbling for me as a leader because my family and I were the only minorities at these events. Each time we were also the only individuals who spoke only English. This allowed me to have deep gratitude for the rich heritage that is celebrated away from school. It inspired me to want to do more and to also celebrate the legacy of my own family. 

 Eric Watson

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Eric Watson

Stockbridge High School

We try to provide an inviting, supportive climate for parents and families. Our goal is to listen and respond to parents thoughts and desires for their children with respect.

My school connects with parents by having Parent University once a month. During Parent University, we provide tutoring for students while parents get training on a number of valuable topics (ie. Google Classroom, Infinite Campus, Love and Logic, PBIS, STEAM etc.). The workshops are often done by my admin. staff, graduation coach, teachers and I. However, there have been times when have brought in a guest speaker.

I connect with parents via our PTO. We are the only high school in Henry County that has an active PTO. We meet once a month and it gives me an opportunity to connect with multiple parents. Additionally, I meet with our School Council once a month.

Also, I have scheduled four Coffee and Conversation with the principal sessions with our community. We had our first Coffee and Conversation with the Principal. I had my first Coffee and Conversation with the Principal last month and it was a success. We had multiple parents that attended this event and they were able to ask questions and tour our building during school hours.

I communicate and connect with parents weekly by using the IC calling post system. I send a voice and written message to our parents once a week. I give them important information about about the up coming week.

 

 Anna Wilson

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Anna Wilson

Unity Grove Elementary

Fostering trusted and caring relationships is paramount to student success. At UGE, we realize the importance of communication with parents and involving them in their children’s school lives. As principal, I try to model positive communication with our families.

A few years ago, we implemented “Positive Office Referrals”. The goal of the “Positive Office Referral” is to recognize our students for going above and beyond expectations in the classroom. When a student receives a referral, a member of the administrative team, celebrates with the student and calls home to inform the family of the student’s accomplishment.

In the past, a phone call from the administration more than likely meant something negative . When we began to contact parents and guardians of students in a positive way, it made a difference in both our students and their families. We found that the more positive office referrals we had, the fewer discipline referrals we had. The phone calls also helped foster relationships with our families. Some of our parents had only received negative phone calls from the school and were pleased that the school was contacting them to celebrate a student’s accomplishment. Many of those parents are now some of our biggest supporters.

Not only have “Positive Office Referrals” made a positive impact on students, they have made a positive impact on the culture of the school. In fact, teachers are starting to recognize other teachers with positive office referrals!

As principal, one of the best parts of my day is seeing a “Positive Office Referral” slip in my mailbox! I look forward to connecting with our families in positive ways and celebrating student success with them!

 Fred Latschar

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Fred Latschar

Walnut Creek Elementary

At Walnut Creek, we put the old adage about “taking a village to raise a child” into practice. The more opportunities our “village members” have to become involved and engaged with our school, the more our students receive the academic and social-emotion support they need for success. Parent volunteers help teachers and staff member by getting materials ready, planning class parties and events and by chaperoning on field trips. Many community members serve as Partners in Education and mentors for our students.

Each fall, we highlight grade level expectations and promote parent resources with our Parent University. The event is created by having parents share with us through a survey what they want to learn about and what they need to help their child be successful. During this event, parents choose from a number of informative workshops that provide ideas and support for working with their children at home. There are also workshops on understanding Henry County Teaching and Learning standards, principal chat, MTSS, and other school based topics. Our parent university highlight our students’ academic talents and musical skills.

Additionally, throughout the school year we offer a variety of other trainings including literacy, math, science/STEM, social studies, and technology events and workshops. We make these events enjoyable and involving for the entire family. To promote engagement by extended family members, grandparents and extended family members are included with events like Grandparents’ Day and lunch with a love one. In spring of each year, parents and students are brought together for our Student-Led Conferences. During these conferences, students use the knowledge of themselves as learners and their data notebooks, to highlight their academic and social-emotional milestones and successes from throughout the year. Realizing that parents are our students’ first teachers, we strive to empower our parents with the tools they need to promote academic success and emotional well-being at home. Our parent resource room has a wealth of interactive activities that parents can checkout to use with their children. Our media center, fosters literacy by allowing parents to come in and check out books to share with their children at home. Connectivity and the belief in student capability is a priority for Walnut Creek Elementary school.

 Derrick Thomas

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Derrick Thomas

Woodland Elementary

It is my belief that connectivity begins with the smallest acts of kindness. For me, my day begins with high fives and hugs as students enter the building and ends with high fives and hugs as students exit the building. That small act of kindness lets my students know that each of them are important to me and I value everyday that I spend with them. Beyond that, I think it is important to engage my students beyond academics as well. So, I have personally sponsored a mentor program where I get to work with 23 young 4th and 5th grade boys on things like leadership, etiquette, self-respect, philanthropy and physical fitness. We take field trips to sporting events, college tours, and other trips as well. We have monthly discussions/debates on current events and talk about how we as an organization can affect positive change within our community and beyond. This program provides a positive outlet for these young men, but more importantly it provides a brotherly bond amongst them where they hold each other accountable for their actions. For me, this is so rewarding as it allows me to connect with my students beyond just academics and to gives me an opportunity to see them grow into young men.

My philosophy is that every student in my building should feel like they're the Principal's favorite.

 Shannon Ellis

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Shannon Ellis

Woodland High School

School and community connectedness are essential elements to the culture and climate at Woodland High School.  Building relationships is a founding pillar upon which Woodland High School was established when we opened our school doors in August of 2007.  It is vitally important that our teachers and staff members build positive and healthy relationships with our students and that our students are empowered to build wonderful relationships with their teachers.  We want our students to feel valued, appreciated and connected to our school. This year, we have piloted the School Connect Program, which is a Social Emotional Learning program with our Freshman class (WHS Class of 2023).  This program focuses on helping students to positively connect to school.  5 Star Service is the motto that we live buy when we are working with our parents and community members.  We strive to provide high-quality service to our parents and guests on a daily basis.  It is also important to me to be active on all of our Social Media platforms.  This is a great way that we can share all of the wonderful accomplishments of our students and a place that we can highlight all of the positive events that we have going on throughout the school year.  With regards to our faculty, at Woodland High School, we are family.  It is important to me that we attract and retain the very best staff for our students.  I hope that my faculty would agree when I state that we are FAMILY at Woodland High School and that we go above and beyond to support and “spoil” our teachers and staff members.  Woodland High School is one of the best places to work and to learn and I love what I do on a daily basis to support my students, my faculty and our school community.