The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, in partnership with Commerce Trust Company, awarded a $19,000 grant to St. James Caring Center through the Coover Regional Grantmaking Program.
St. James News
An eight-person panel of school administrators and police officers spoke during a public forum on school safety last Thursday night at the middle school. The district has been working to improve school safety protocols and heard public input on what citizens view as safety concerns.
The Missouri Veterans Home (MVH)- St. James has received a grant that will help complete projects in the building. Governor Eric Greitens announced Monday that the Missouri Veterans Commission has secured a total of $25 million from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for construction projects in Missouri Veterans Homes. St. James will receive $3,732,081.60 of that grant money.
Carey Portell, a local farmer, will be featured on RFD-TV’s television show FarmHer in the fall. Filming took place on her farm on Thursday morning and the show will discuss how she farms with a disability, the accident that gave her the disability, and how farming has given her the courage to be an inspirational speaker to others.
The John F. Hodge High School and St. James Middle School have been nominated as Capturing Kids’ Hearts (CKH) National Showcase Schools for the 2017-18 school year. This is the second year the middle school has been nominated in a row and the first time ever for the high school.
“Flippen Group has been working with schools for over twenty years with Capturing Kids’ Hearts and about three years ago we started looking at some of the campuses in the United States where they were just doing an incredible job. We came up with the idea of rewarding some of those,” Brad McCoy, of the Flippen Group, said. “We set standards that these schools had to beat, too, from absenteeism to office referrals to test scores, the whole thing. There’s a lot of national standards they have to meet,” he added.
“The first year I think we had 11. Last year, I believe we had 53. This year, it’s really exploded. We’ve got over 100 that have qualified. Actually, we had over 1,000 qualified for the National Showcase Schools. We picked the top, just a few over 100 (for nomination),” McCoy said.
To qualify for nomination, schools have to show their level of implementation of Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes by all staff as measured with online surveys and data that supports the premise that Capturing Kids’ Hearts has made a significant impact in the school. This data is shown through attendance, discipline, the climate/culture of the campus, and academics. Schools are reviewed by an internal Flippen Group team to determine campus eligibility for a site visit.
Nominated schools will be reviewed by a site team, which will interview teachers, students, administrators, and parents during the review process, and will gather information during the building walk-through that will be used to determine if a nominated school should receive the award.
McCoy said it has been a fun process watching St. James campuses use the Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes during the past few years and to be rewarded with a nomination shows the work the staff has put in. “I believe there are schools in 48 states that have received that honor, so it’s a national award and there’s a lot of great things that go along with that and the recognition. It’s just a great affirmation to leadership and to teachers and to how the kids have responded to that,” McCoy.
“CKH is not a program. St. James had a good program. They had good academics and curriculum before we got here. CKH is what we call a process that we teach teachers to plug into their current program that makes it better,” McCoy said. “Everything is about kids. We’re all trying to make kids better.” He added, by making teachers better, it improves students even more.
“This is kind of a legacy piece for Joy Tucker (former superintendent). She was the administrator in charge five years ago, so she brought this in. She was so wrapped up in what this was,” he said. When superintendent Dr. Merlyn Johnson was hired by the district, he learned about the process and has continued that legacy. McCoy said Johnson went through the training and what CKH means and has become “totally onboard.”
CKH uses an EXCEL model, which is an acronym for Engage, X-plore, Communicate, Empower, and Launch. This involves greeting students at the door and hearing good things in their lives, forming social contracts that students and teachers use for appropriate classroom behavior, addressing needs or concerns, and communicating together for common goals.
“The initial training is called Capturing Kids’ Hearts and all the teachers have gone through that. In the training, we teach teachers and give them the tools to teach self-management in the classroom, how to promote high performance, and how to teach kids to own their behavior, good behavior or bad behavior,” McCoy said. This has led to many districts participating in CKH seeing their disciplinary referrals drop dramatically, since students and teachers are communicating through the problem rather than simply sending students to the office. “Teachers are managing their classrooms and keeping kids in their class rather than sending them to the office,” he said.
Teachers that are identified in training as really being on board with the process and having the skills to help others in the district are given the title Process Champions. “We asked principals to give an evaluation of the teachers that were really doing it well. It was impacting them and they felt comfortable with that,” McCoy said. These teachers are given additional training, giving them tools to go help struggling teachers that the process is not going as well for as others.
The CKH process has become a culture in St. James and teachers have seen improvement in students and their relationships with staff as well as the improvement in academics. McCoy thanked Dr. Johnson for his continued support of the process and the work St. James teachers have dedicated to being better teachers.