Strategies for Student Success 2015 - Page 46

In response to these insights, the district adopted and expanded several recognized leadership development models in a multi-school character development initiative. At Dyersburg Primary School, a Positive Behavior program for K-2 students encourages kids to be respectful, responsible, and ready for learning. The Leader in Me program implemented for grades 3-5 at Dyersburg Intermediate gets kids thinking early and often about goal-setting and personal development. Further character education happens in many dimensions for older students at Dyersburg Middle and Dyersburg High schools. Part of the process for younger kids is adoption of responsibilities ordinarily taken on by adults. Elementary kids take ownership of keeping classrooms and hallways clean. Many classrooms have a designated “greeter” – a child responsible for immediately hopping up for an introduction to any visitor to the room, taking time to explain what’s happening, get a bottle of water for the visitor, and checking to see what the visitor needs. School therapy dogs can provide a range of services to students, from spending time with high-need kids to providing a nonjudgmental ear for children practicing their reading skills, as well as another outlet for development of student responsibility – kids are charged with various dog care needs. “It’s unbelievable what it does for the attitude of students and teachers when you walk in with a dog,” Mr. Durbin said. “It is the cheapest, most effective intervention that we have.” At Dyersburg Intermediate, all fifth-graders attend a leadership class taught by school librarian Kari Bernier for a total of four weeks during the school year. Kids learn about 45 interpersonal communication, getting along with others, and public speaking. Presentation skills are explored for speaking to groups and individuals. Students consider what it might mean to have a professional or social persona. The underpinnings of responsibility and leadership are developed and reinforced. “It opens doors in any number of ways, in all sorts of fields. When they get older and into those leadership roles, they’re ready,” Ms. Bernier said. At Dyersburg Middle and Dyersburg High schools, students are responsible for aspects of school operations including management of message boards, production of presentations and ads, and district-wide technical support. Designated middle and high school ambassadors guide visitors around the schools. All older students face big consequences for being late to class. If they aren’t in their seats and ready to learn when the bell rings, they aren’t permitted to attend the class. Instead they complete the work in an alternate setting until the next period.