Elementary School

Weston Elementary - "Helping Us Build a Successful Learning Environment"

By Amanda Crowl

Weston Elementary School is composed of the youngest learners in the Kearsley Community School District.  We provide a launching point for the educational career of our district’s student body.  Weston Elementary School houses a developmental kindergarten, kindergarten, and first-grade students.  This means our youngest learners are four years old, and our oldest learners are seven years old.  The first educational experiences of a student are crucial.  They provide a foundation for future learning and help establish learning norms moving forward.  

In addition to being a starting point for learning within the Kearsley Community School District, Weston Elementary School was met with another unique challenge this school year.  At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, many Weston teachers and staff members made the difficult decision to retire.  While we certainly wish these teachers the best in their well-deserved retirement, this created a knowledge void in our school.  Many of these teachers carried with them a wealth of experience and institutional understanding about our school.  Thus, this year, over half of our staff are new.  For some of these teachers, this is their first year of teaching.  As any teacher will tell you, the first year of teaching is extremely challenging.  Therefore, these teachers need a lot of support to help them find success. 

At the beginning of the school year, we asked ourselves how we can combat these unique circumstances.  The Kearsley Community School District chose to address these issues by increasing its counseling program.  We now have a full-time elementary counselor assigned to each building.  The belief is allocating additional staff in this arena will help provide additional social-emotional support to students after two years of difficult pandemic learning circumstances.  In regard to our specific building, we took a different approach.  We built on using our counseling resources to the fullest potential.  After much research and reflection on our goal of making Weston a safe and successful learning environment for all, we decided to do this through the implementation of The Positivity Project!

In order to ensure we implement The Positive Project with fidelity, the school counselor pushes into every classroom once a week to do a lesson on the weekly character strength.  This lesson includes reading a book, having the class partake in a discussion, and completing an activity to go along with the weekly character strength.  An example of this was for the character strength of ‘open-mindedness.’  For this particular lesson, the school counselor read the book, Perfect Square by Michael Hall.  Then the school counselor then led a discussion in each classroom on open-mindedness and what it means to be open-minded.  Finally, upon the conclusion of the lesson, each student received a square but had to make it into something else.  

In addition to the lessons taught by the counselor, teachers use The Positivity Project website to do quick daily lessons using the Google Slides and videos.  Furthermore, each classroom has P2 word cards, as well.  This way teachers, students, and any staff members can always refer to the character strengths during learning endeavors.  The phrase, “other people matter” can often be heard throughout Weston on any given day.

With our mission to make The Positivity Project being such a huge part of the Weston Elementary School culture, we wanted to spotlight students that go above and beyond to show other people matter.  Therefore, each month teachers choose two students from his/her classroom to receive “Student of the Month” based upon the students who demonstrated, “other people matter”.  We also have school bulletin boards dedicated to The Positivity Project and Other People Matter.  Students walk by these bulletin boards on a daily basis.  They serve as a great reminder that one of the core value beliefs of Weston is that other people matter.  

Not only is it important to decorate the building to show that we are a Positivity Project School, but we also have to look at the part.  Each staff member purchased a Positivity Project shirt.  In addition, students were also able to purchase these shirts.  Knowing that not all students would be able to afford a shirt, we asked our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to help us ensure every student could receive a Positivity Project shirt.  Some of our families made monetary donations to help cover the cost of every student receiving one of the shirts.  Every Wednesday, the staff and students wear The Positivity Project shirts to validate how we all are a P2 Community!  This is certainly an enjoyable ongoing spirit day!

All in all, The Positivity Project has proven to be very successful in helping us build a successful learning environment for all.  We are thrilled with our decision to implement this program at Weston Elementary School.  We look forward to expanding the way it is used in the future.

Amanda Crowl

Weston Elementary's school counselor.