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Potterville Elementary School receives national recognition for new school program

Potterville Elementary is one of 300 schools in the country that earned the title “National showcase school” this year because of the program.
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Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Potterville Elementary School is in the spotlight after receiving national recognition for a new program that helps students develop social and emotional skills. Capturing Kids Hearts focuses on social and emotional health, allowing them to feel more supported in the classroom. Potterville Elementary is one of 300 schools in the country that earned the title “National showcase school” this year because of the program.

Principal Patrick O’Rourke said it helps administrators and teacher be more intentional with building relationships with the students and learn pro-social behavior. O’Rourke said, “In school they’ll get five or eight ‘hello’s’ before they even make it to their locker.”

The program was implemented two years ago throughout the district. Teachers make classroom contracts that help students stay on track. Second grade teacher Jill Wolfe said her students have been more engaged since the program began.

Wolfe said, “Most mornings I’ll say ‘OK, pick something off of our social contract that you want to focus on.’ whether its lets focus on being engaged today, lets focus on being patient today. We also reflect at the end of the day, so “How do you guys think you did?””

Rather than focusing on punishments, the goal is for kids to stay positive and correct their behavior. Since the program was implemented reports of bad behavior have decreased.

“Wolfe said, “The negative consequences, in which there can be, its lets reflect on this behavior. What are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? Lets turn it around. I’m going to give you that opportunity to turn it around, so it really has decreased behaviors.”

School officials have noticed students are happier since they were introduced to the program. There is even a board in the hallway where kids can write their classmates positive affirmations.

O’Rourke said, “They can put them up for their own class, for their teachers, they can put them up for other classes. Its been amazing. In three and a half weeks we have 290 kids or so, we have over 700 affirmations on there.”

The love keeps giving. Wolfe said one of her students looks forward to sharing their affirmations. She said, “I had a student tell me ' before I go to bed at night I think about the good thing I’m going to share tomorrow. It really does, even though you may not have been in school or may not be able to be with friends, they’re still thinking about those good things.”

Potterville is one of the only school district in the area with the program, which runs from Pre-K through 12th grade. Officials said parents tell them that they’ve noticed the positive effects extending to their home life, thanks to the reinforcement they’re getting at school.

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