A children’s version of the hip-hop song “My House” sounded in the cafeteria at Crockett Elementary School Thursday morning, and teachers encouraged the first graders sitting in a line on the floor to swing their arms to the beat. .
The students were waiting their turn to spin a large wooden wheel attached to the wall, with sections colored in black, red, green and blue, which would indicate to them which “house” they would belong to – Altruismo (donors), Amistad (friendship) , Isibindi (courage) or Reveur (dreamers).
Crockett Elementary is the first school in the Corpus Christi Independent School District to launch a house system based on the Ron Clark Academy model in Atlanta, Georgia. This system, in turn, was inspired by the tradition of British boarding schools which is featured in the Harry Potter series.
Another CCISD school, Evans Elementary, is also considering adopting a house system. They are part of several public schools across the country that are adopting similar programs to improve student conduct and performance – and to foster teamwork and a sense of belonging.
As part of the system, students will earn points for good behavior, such as uninvited garbage picking up or befriending new students, or academic achievements, such as making the honor roll, earning a award at the science fair or get good exam results. (Unlike the Harry Potter series, staff will not deduct points for misconduct.)
Points will be tracked in an app called ClassDojo, and each week staff will update the point totals for each house on signs in the lobby. The house with the most points will be celebrated in an end of year ceremony.
“We wanted the kids to have something to work on that wasn’t self-centered,” said Crockett deputy manager Sara Ajisafe. “It’s about working together, feeling at home somewhere and always doing your best when you get to school. “
Over the summer, Ajisafe and principal Olivia Ballesteros reflected on ways to tackle bad student behavior after the school saw a high number of disciplinary dismissals last year. They also hoped to improve school performance. The Texas Education Agency gave the school a C grade for 2018-19, down from a B the year before.
Ajisafe learned about the home system through “The Essential 55,” a guide for educators written by Ron Clark, co-founder of the famous non-profit college, and she led its implementation at Crockett Elementary. Educators can access Clark’s guidelines free of charge.
School staff were assigned to homes last month, and as part of a team-building exercise, 20 teachers worked with their roommates to solve an escape room last month. To represent her house – Reveur – Ajisafe showed up to school on Thursday wearing bright blue mascara and matching sneakers.
One by one, the young students climbed a stepladder to reach the wheel of the house, which was built by Roland Bentancourt, son of the manager of the cafeteria Estella Bentancourt.
Many of the students gave big smiles as they learned which house they would belong to. “I did it!” a pre-K student, a new member of Isibindi, applauded.
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“I’m in love with Harry Potter, and it reminds me of Harry Potter, so I’m excited,” said Kayden Reyna, a fifth-grader in the new system. “It’s something we’ve never done before.”
“It’s something new to experience,” said Nayeli Espinosa, Reyna’s classmate, adding that it could have a good effect on the students. “It will probably change their attitude and behavior at school. “
The school is fundraising to give each student a matching home t-shirt, which they will wear to school once a week. Residents can donate by writing a check to the Crockett Elementary PTA.
Because the program is in its first year, Ballesteros and Ajisafe are still hammering out other details, such as how often houses will hold group meetings.
“We’re having a lot of fun with it,” Ballesteros said. “We try to increase our accomplishments and to do so, we build relationships. With the house system, our children can belong to a family on campus.
Vicky Camarillo covers education, immigration, and other issues in South Texas and the rest of Lone Star State. Support local journalism with a subscription to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
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