Capturing Kids Hearts

By Morgan Macfarlane

Capturing Kids Hearts started with the beginning of the new school year in Schoolcraft. The goal of the program is to create a positive, trusting culture where every student is accepted and connected to an adult, paving the way for high performance, said Kristen Flynn, Schoolcraft High School principal.

Capturing a Kids Heart works to create safe, trusting, and self-managing classrooms, it also helps to improve attendance as well as increasing students’ motivation, according to The Flippen Group who came up with the model. The program goes even further by helping to decrease delinquent behaviors, such as drug use, and disruptive outbursts they believe.

“For me, I feel that it creates an environment where everyone knows they are cared about first as a person, then as a student. It also helps kids take control over their own learning. Everyone has a voice,” said Penny Sportel, Schoolcraft Middle School social studies teacher.

“We, as faculty, want every student within Schoolcraft to feel as if they belong and know that we care about them as individuals. In addition, Capturing Kids Hearts helps place some classroom responsibility on the students themselves by giving them a voice through the social contract,” said Dustin Sayers, Schoolcraft Middle and High School history teacher.

Flynn said, “Both Chris Ebsch, Middle School principal, and I had attended other districts and saw the powerful impact it had on a school’s culture, including the interaction between students and between teachers and students.”

Sportel asked her students what they thought of Capture a Kids Heart. Some said, “Everyone has a good, positive attitude.” Others said, “It helps create a positive atmosphere in the class room and I can tell people care about me.” Some students said, “This is ten times better than last year!”

The program works on several basic principles, one of them being the EXCEL Leadership, Teaching, and Relationship model, according to the Flippen Group. E stands for engage, The Flippen Group suggests greeting students at the door, a positive greeting welcomes students to the class, it also helps develop social and professional skills. Next is X, it stands for explore, get in touch with students personally, emotionally, and academically.

The Flippen Group recommends sharing “Good Things,” this shows interest in students, creates positivity, and teaches leadership skills. C is for communicate, work to create a twoway dialogue between teachers and students. Next is E which stands for empower, The Flippen Group suggests giving students responsibility, and creating an atmosphere where students feel they can fail during the learning process. L is for launch, close class with a meaningful end to motivate, inspire, and encourage students.

Capturing a Kids Heart also uses a social contract. The social contract goal is to create a self-managing classroom, according to The Flippen Group. To create the social contract, students answered these questions: How do you want to be treated by me? How do you want to be treated by each other? How do you think I want to be treated by you? How should we treat each other when there is a conflict?

In late August, High School and Middle School teachers, principals, secretaries, custodian, food service personnel and paraprofessionals all attended professional development days, said Flynn. The professional development was held at the Schoolcraft Masonic Hall, and led by Dr. Mike Holt from the Flippen Group.

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