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Nine Campuses Named Capturing Kids' Hearts Showcase Schools

            Nine Cleburne ISD campuses are among a list of 285 to be named Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

            This is the third consecutive year for Coleman Elementary to receive the designation and the second for Adams, C.C. Cooke, Gerard, Irving, Marti and Santa Fe Elementary Schools and Smith and Wheat Middle Schools. All nine campuses were notified earlier in the spring that they had been nominated for the honor, which was followed by site visits from the Flippen Group, sponsor of the CKH initiative.

            Honorees are chosen for the level of effort put forth by the entire campus team from custodian to cafeteria to classroom in putting the CKH principles into everyday practice to create a safe and caring culture. Showcase Schools have built an environment based on the concept “if you have a child’s heart, you have their mind.” A relational connection has been established with students in a variety of ways, from greeting each student at the door to creating classroom social contracts based on student input and consensus. From the sharing of good news to start the day to positive reinforcements used in classroom management, campuses found to have utilized best practices in implementing CKH reflect improvements in student attendance, performance and a drop in discipline referrals.

            In a video message to Showcase School members, CKH founder Flip Flippen said the importance of teachers in their students’ lives has been taken to a whole new level in recent days.

            “During ‘these’ times, I know schools have been working incredibly hard to stay connected with students and the community,” Flippen said. “We have been so inspired with the examples of teachers using CKH tools in this new cloud/virtual world. Without the relationships that had already been built before COVID-19, the online sessions teachers are having right now would not be as important to their students. They are encouraged to do their work because their teacher is a special person in their lives.”

            “The schools we are honoring have been responsible for creating a culture of caring that is so critical in the lives of students,” Flippen said. “Before the stay at home orders went into place, our strategists visited these schools and saw unique and inspiring things taking place. In interviews with teachers, students and parents, our representatives left feeling these were schools where they would like to work—and send their own children.”

            Coleman Principal Marla Roth said while she had always been proud of the way her staff had embraced Capturing Kids’ Hearts, it has been taken to a new level of with the implementation of remote instruction.

            “This awesome group of staff members truly goes above and beyond daily to meet the needs of their kids,” Roth said. “It has been even more apparent with our remote learning. Our teachers were able to get in contact with all of their students and get them set up to learn in this new way of delivering instruction. The process was time consuming and challenging but that didn't faze this group of educators. I am proud to be the principal of such dedicated and caring individuals who are capturing kids' hearts every day.”

            Administrators from Cleburne’s CKH Showcase Schools all said the closing of campuses to derail the spread of the Coronavirus has been hard on teachers, who are used to looking into the faces of their learners, rather than operating out of virtual classrooms.

            “Even through this difficult time, our teachers have made tremendous efforts to stay in touch with their students to make sure they know we care about them and look forward to their return,” Marti Elementary Principal Mary Boedeker said. “While we are honored to be one of only 285 campuses across the nation to be awarded this designation, I am not surprised. The staff at Marti exemplify daily what caring relationships look like.”

            “During these times, we are missing our students more than ever,” Smith Middle School Principal Amber White said. “It is an honor to serve our students—and their families. The relationships we’ve made with them are the foundation of our Smith culture and we are thrilled that our effort in building these relationships is recognized and honored in being selected as a CKH National Showcase Campus. We couldn’t do what we do without our community support, parent support and the support of one another.”

            Santa Fe Elementary Assistant Principal Matt Ford said the Capturing Kids’ Hearts spirit can be felt with one step into his school.

            “As everyone, from teachers to paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and those in between work to build relationships with all our students, the feeling of genuine love and respect is palpable the moment you walk through our doors,” Ford said. “That continues wherever you go throughout our campus. I could not be prouder of the Santa Fe staff—and students—for earning this prestigious honor for a second year.”

            The CKH National Showcase School recognition is the second for Irving Elementary, but the first to be experienced by a key staff member new to the campus this year. Principal Sherqueena Jackson made achieving the honor a personal goal as the new leader of the Irving Tigers.

            “My first year as a teacher, the school I worked for was a Capturing Kids’ Hearts campus,” Jackson said. “I saw the magical impact it had on our campus and I knew then every school should embrace CKH. I felt that so much, that as I moved to another school, I approached the district’s leadership about bringing it to that campus.”

            “When I found out Cleburne was a CKH district, I was sold,” Jackson said. “As the new kid on the block, it was my goal to ensure Irving remained a CKH National Showcase campus. But that wasn’t hard at all. The credit goes to the staff and students at Irving, who made it easy because they care for each other tremendously and embody the essence of #TigerPride.”

            As National Showcase Schools for 2019-20, the CISD campuses will also serve as models for the CKH initiative and “influencers” for districts interested in bringing the program to their schools.

            “I thank these teachers, administrators and schools for continuing to teach, lead, inspire and connect through this crazy, strange journey we are on right now,” Flippen said. “Never before have teachers been more important in the lives of students than they are today—and for that matter, in the lives of the parents. They have provided them with hope and encouragement for such a better tomorrow and for that we could not be more thankful.”