Thursday, April 25, 2013

Celebrating Students - A Reflection of School Culture

While talking with one of my students, principal of an elementary school in nearby Monroe, this morning she described her efforts to change the culture of her school. Her school was often the lowest performing school in the district but recently sixth grade reading scores have exceeded state averages and are now the highest in the district. She mentioned "Eagle Walks" that occurred at the beginning and end of each school year. I was fascinated by the idea and asked for more information.

The school's mascot is the eagle. Every year on the first day of school new students (kindergartners and others new to the school) arrive to find the teachers, staff and returning students and parents lining the hallways. As the new students enter, everyone cheers and applauds their arrival. The school's song is played on the public address system and there are small gifts for every new student. Similarly, on the final day of school, teachers, staff, students and parents line the hallways and applaud as the sixth graders depart for the middle school.

What a wonderful example of how a ritual or ceremony can become an important indicator of the culture of the school. The principal reports that students return to the school and always want to know if the "tradition" continues. It's one of those memories they carry with them for their lifetime.

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