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CLK Elementary School wins national award

CALUMET TOWNSHIP — CLK Elementary School was named a National Showcase School by Capturing Kids’ Hearts earlier this month, according to a release from CLK Elementary School Assistant Principal Julie Giachino.

“This is quite the honor for our school,” said Elementary Principal Matt Hampton, “and is a testament to the incredible work our teachers and support staff have put in since we started this process in 2019.

“The Capturing Kids’ Hearts program has not only enhanced our relationships with students and families, but with colleagues, as well. One CLK Elementary staff member has stated it best as ‘We are capturing peoples’ hearts.'”

For the past two years, the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium and Keweenaw (CLK) have been working with the Flippen Group, the company running Capturing Kids’ Hearts, to continue their journey of becoming trauma informed. Through generous grants provided by Portage Health Foundation, their vision has become a reality at CLK Elementary. Throughout the process, CLK has acquired three therapy dogs, started a Handle with Care Program with local police, and had trauma specialists speak to staff about the effects of trauma.

The Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools award recognizes outstanding school administrators, teaching staff, and faculty for producing exemplary outcomes with Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes. In 2020, 286 campuses were awarded as Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools and six Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Districts. These schools and districts have measurable outcomes in key performance criteria such as increases in attendance, climate/culture, and academic performance, as well as decreases in discipline referrals. As we identify these outstanding schools and educators each year, please join us in celebrating some of the most skilled and effective educators in the country.

National Showcase Schools are chosen annually through a rigorous selection process that includes measuring key performance indicators, gathering campus data, and surveying staff and students. The results represent the implementation of CKH processes as well as the culture and climate on each campus. CLK Elementary is the only school in the Upper Peninsula to earn the recognition.

The program’s basic premise is educators need to put their students and relationships with them at the forefront of everything they do, the release states.

“When you walk the halls of CLK,” states the release, “here are some Capturing Kids’ Hearts pieces you may notice:”

– Adults greeting all staff and students

– Social Contracts in all classrooms that are like classroom constitutions. They define the expected behaviors of how students treat each other, treat our teachers, and handle conflict. These are created as a group, with input from all students.

– Good things sharing being done to begin conversations by telling those around you something good.

– Lifting each other up with kindness through affirmations.

– Students and staff use non-verbal signals to “check” one another if they aren’t following the Social Contract. This isn’t to get them in trouble, but to help them turn their behavior around so they don’t get in trouble. Once a student is checked, they give a thumbs up to let the other person know they received the message.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a two-day training where educators learn how to build high-performing teams in their classroom, and become part of a high-performing team with the other participants, states the CKH website.

Through experiential training, expert coaching, an SEL (Social and emotional learning) curriculum for students, and personalized support, Capturing Kids’ Hearts equips professionals in K-12 education to implement transformational processes focused on social-emotional wellbeing, relationship-driven campus culture, and student connectedness. SEL is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships, to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity, and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools, and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.

“It has been a roller coaster of a year for students and teachers, “Capturing Kids’ Hearts wrote in their announcement of 2021 winners. “But, despite the challenges, our National Showcase Schools have demonstrated what it looks like to consistently implement Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes. Our National Showcase School awardees have found unique ways to continue to build positive learning environments where students are excited to attend, whether virtually or in person.”

“Capturing Kids’ Hearts has totally changed the focus and atmosphere of our building,” said CLK Elementary’s Administrative Assistant Kara Galbraith. “Building relationships with the children and working from there to address any kind of behaviors or negatives has been a game changer. Incorporating Kings Time with the Capturing Kids’ Hearts format has really been bringing out the positives in our students. For our staff, remembering the person first and employee second has made really positive changes in our staff and capturing their hearts too.”

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