Eastside Elementary School is in the running for a national honor after it was learned late last week the the Grady County school had been nominated for the “Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School Award.”
“Capturing Kids’ Hearts” was created in 1990 by founder Flip Flippen in College Station, Texas. The program equips teachers, coaches, administrators and school district leaders with skills and techniques to improve school culture, strengthen trust between teachers and students, improving academic performance and fostering trauma-informed care.
School across the nation who have embraced the “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” approach and have recorded measurable results are recognized with the showcase school award.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard first heard about the program in 2017 and contacted the firm about the possibility of training Grady County educators. It was not long before Dr. Gilliard received a call from Juan Ortiz, a leadership solutions advisor with CKH in their Denver office, and he said he would be flying to Atlanta and driving to Cairo. “He didn’t realize it was a four and half hour drive, but he came,” Dr. Gilliard said.
In the fall of 2018, 50 faculty and staff from both Eastside Elementary School, Southside Elementary School, and Cairo High School Ninth Grade Academy participated in CKH training. The training was conducted at Eastside Baptist Church and Cairo First United Methodist Church. According to Dr. Gilliard, CKH officials prefer a training site away from the distractions of the school. The Grady County School System was the first Georgia system to take advantage of the CKH training.
Then the Grady County superintendent then met CKH founder Flip Flippen at a conference in Savannah in 2019 and had the opportunity to discuss in depth the needs and challenges here and how CKH could make a difference in the lives of local children.
Last summer, 60 faculty and staff of Washington Middle School took part in the training, and due to COVID, the training took place at the school, which had facilities large enough for a group of 50 to socially distance.
If all goes according to plan, training for personnel at Northside, Shiver, Whigham and Cairo High School will take place prior to the opening of school for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Mrs. Wright (the Eastside principal), her staff and students have embraced the ‘Capturing Kids’ Hearts’ program. They use the skills daily in their classrooms and throughout the school. It is an honor to have been nominated for this award and we look forward to hearing that they have been chosen as a recipient in the next few months. The social and emotional well-being of our students is vital to their academic success.
“Caring for Kids’ Hearts” founder Flip Flippen goes further and states, “If you have a child’s heart…you have a child’s mind.” Flippen credits the encouragement of his second grade teacher, Mrs. Matthews, for encouraging him to spend the rest of his life helping others reach their potential.
Through this program local educators have learned invaluable lessons in relationship skills, self-awareness, responsible decision making, social awareness and self-management. Lessons that they can use to build better relationships with their students, and in turn help their students achieve more in school and stay out of trouble.
Dr. Gilliard said that through the program students feel more connected to their school and they are more likely to have positive outcomes in school and in life.
Through CKH students and teachers enter into a contract each year which among other things stipulates the classroom rules. According to Dr. Gilliard, a teacher may call out a student for contract violations, while at the same time students can call out their teacher if he or she violates the contract.
Dr. Gilliard said that teachers and students are encouraged to look each other directly in the eye when communication and to speak clearly. “CKH really emphasizes being intentional in your actions. It is important for students to set goals, but there is more to it than setting a goal. You have to be intentional in achieving your goal,” he said.
Once all of the training has been completed systemwide, the Grady County School System could eventually be named a Showcase System, according to Dr. Gilliard.