Title

"Conversation Hearts" - Transforming a School to Become the 'Heart' of the Community

First Presenter's Institution

Robberson Community School

Second Presenter's Institution

Laura Carpenter

Third Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fourth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fifth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Location

Scarbrough 4

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

- Heart (and Head)

In today’s computerized, data-driven, common core world the heart’s condition and the vital role it plays in the overall success of our students is often overlooked. Robberson Community School addresses the relevance of relationships while providing a customized curricular structure to help close the opportunity gap.

Brief Program Description

Invested relationships don’t happen by chance but are cultivated intentionally with time, attention, and interest. Robberson Community School will share how they have successfully built strong lasting relationships both inside and outside the school walls; from the use of looping classrooms, the continuous learning calendar, wrap around services, customized curriculum, and even the use of therapy dogs!

This session is intended for those curious educators who are brave enough to step outside their comfort zone and transition from the traditional school mindset to the community school concept and all it has to offer.

Summary

This session will be high energy and high impact. The interactive style of the presentation and the engaging personalities of the workshop leaders will result in a session where the audience will become participants. The express goal is that everyone in attendance will leave this session with at least one concrete idea that they can take back to their school site and being immediately implementing.

Nobody has time to come to a conference and simply listen to what somebody else has done. We understand that! Therefore, our session is designed in such a manner where participants will be able to experience our journey of transition: from the traditional academic calendar to a continuous learning calendar; from a traditional delivery model of instruction to a customized curriculum; from a school not very involved with the outside community to one that seeks and cherishes its community partners; in short, from “just another elementary school down the block” to a thriving, innovative, creative, barrier-breaking Community School!

Robberson Community School is a small elementary school in a highly impoverished pocket within the larger city of Springfield in Southwest Missouri. Our free and reduced lunch rate typically hovers around 95% which qualifies us as a Title I school. Yet our small school has managed to shift the thought process of an entire community about what a school can be. Through this session, participants will journey through the process of change and will be given concrete examples of how to make changes in their community.

Contrary to popular belief, change isn’t hard. It just takes the proper catalyst and big-hearted people!

Evidence

The inequalities within the educational system have been examined and reported by educators and researchers for years. In his book, "Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis", Robert Putnam has documented what schools can do to close the opportunity gap. His work recognizes and identifies that students from poorer families are “less prepared by their families, their schools, and their communities to develop their God-given talents as fully as rich kids.” However, just recognizing and identifying the facts is not enough. Those of us who have spent our educational careers working in schools in less advantaged areas have to do something different. To that end, Robberson Community School took the following action:

1. We became Missouri’s first Community School.

A “Community School” has at its core passionate people who are committed to the process of removing barriers and implementing supplemental programs and opportunities for its students, increasing and encouraging parental engagement, and inviting community businesses and organizations to partner with the school to meet its needs.

2. We implemented our city’s first Continuous Learning Calendar.

Originally this was done to lessen summer “brain drain” however, other benefits have surfaced from engaging this calendar that have exceeded our expectations; nearly year-round access to medical care, mental health care, three hot meals a day, daily structured and unstructured physical play among others.

3. We practice Classroom Looping.

Because we know that relationships and stability are vital to the education of a child, all of our teachers loop with their children for two years. Kindergarten teachers loop to first grade; second grade teachers loop to third grade; fourth grade teachers loop to fifth grade. This allows our teachers to really KNOW and have a true heart connection to their students and their students’ families.

4. We practice Flexible Academic Grouping.

In the younger grades this is done solely within the classroom or grade level through guided reading and guided math. However, in fourth and fifth grades student groups are ‘flexed’ based on their academic needs. Students in all grades are taught exactly on the level where they are learning with frequent ‘running records’, or ability checks so that the groups are fluid and students move from one group to another once they have mastered a particular skill.

5. We do everything heart-lead.

Over time we have built and maintained a staff that is committed to our mission and model. Working in sync and supporting one another lays a key foundation for our success. The natural byproduct of our workforce connectivity is a heart for our students. This approach has created a sense of community that nurtures and stimulates motivation, pride in oneself, and ultimately success inside and out of the classroom environment. We are all one family and they are all ‘our’ children.

As Dr. Ruby Payne states in her book " A framework for Understanding Poverty", “the two things that help one move out of poverty are education and relationships.” At Robberson Community School, we educate with heart.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Kevin Huffman has been an educator for over 25 years. He has served as the principal of Robberson Community for the past 18 years. All of his educational career has been in highly impoverished schools ranging from inner-city elementary schools to rural secondary schools.

Kevin is a returning presenter at the National Conference for Youth At-Risk conference.

Laura Carpenter has a dual role at Robberson Community School serving as the librarian and as the Community Engagement Coordinator. She has been an educator for 11 years. In addition to her school experiences, she has served the community through homeless outreaches, youth services, and programs through the public library.

Laura has a passion for writing and is sought after for her book reviews, editorials, and professional business editing.

Both Kevin and Laura have heart for reaching children and families in need.

Keyword Descriptors

Community School, Title One, Hear-led, Opportunity Gap, Relationships, Continuous Learning, Wrap-around services, Innovative, Poverty, Calendar

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-8-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

3-8-2017 11:00 AM

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Mar 8th, 9:45 AM Mar 8th, 11:00 AM

"Conversation Hearts" - Transforming a School to Become the 'Heart' of the Community

Scarbrough 4

Invested relationships don’t happen by chance but are cultivated intentionally with time, attention, and interest. Robberson Community School will share how they have successfully built strong lasting relationships both inside and outside the school walls; from the use of looping classrooms, the continuous learning calendar, wrap around services, customized curriculum, and even the use of therapy dogs!

This session is intended for those curious educators who are brave enough to step outside their comfort zone and transition from the traditional school mindset to the community school concept and all it has to offer.