JONESBORO – A second school in Jonesboro has implemented the Harry Potter style of school culture.
It’s been two years in preparation for International Studies, a magnetic elementary in Jonesboro public schools, principal Josh Byard said.
“When I got to international studies, we didn’t have a process for celebrating children,” Byard said.
Byard said he first heard about the Ron Clark House System when he worked for the Trumann School District. The more he worked in international studies, the more he believed it was something that would benefit his students.
“I approached Dr. Kim Wilbanks about this, and she asked me what I thought about it,” Byard said. “I told him I loved it and felt it would have a huge impact on our children.”
Byard was able to take a school leadership team to tour Ron Clark’s private academy in Atlanta.
“Once you see it and experience it, you want to come back and make it happen in your school,” he said.
Byard said COVID-19 prevented the school from implementing the home system last year, but this year they decided not to let the pandemic stop them from moving forward.
“We felt this impact was so important to our children and staff and not just to their morale; it gives us a break from COVIDness and something to look forward to every day, ”he said.
Today is the school house sorting ceremony.
“Although Ron Clark’s house system is divided into four houses, we have chosen to divide ours into six,” he said. “We used the acronym LEADER and created houses.
House Lysnna means listening, House Kannustaa to encourage, House Sachet for attentive, House Zimisele for determined, House Einfuhlung for empathy, and House Kuleana for responsible.
The students will spin the metal wheel created and donated to the school by Hytrol on which the name and crest of each house are affixed.
“It’s like the wheel of Wheel of Fortune,” said Byard.
As the school becomes more immersed in a house style culture, students learn hand signals, which are affirmations, and earn points for displaying behaviors based on 36 global guidelines.
“We have monitors in the halls that display the names and photos of the students whenever they earn a point,” said Byard.
The University Heights School of Medical Arts, located in the Nettleton School District, is in its third year of implementing the Ron Clark House System.
Brandy Thompson is one of the school leaders who helped bring the homeschool culture to life.
“I think this year’s house is bigger and better than ever,” said Thompson.
“We went to Ron Clark Academy this summer and it touched us a lot,” she said. “We came back with the idea of giving them a clue and a cause.”
Thomson said she was thrilled to have another district join the school culture.
“The more the merrier,” she said.
Julie Barker, the school media specialist, who was also instrumental in developing the school system, said things were going well this year.
“We had our house sorting ceremony last Friday and we created a live Facebook feed where parents could join in and watch,” she said.
The focus of the school this year is on the history of the house. Barker said their school is divided into six houses.
“We are Six Houses, One Heartbeat,” said Barker, “and we are this supportive and encouraging family for our students.”