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Thinking Outside the Box, Rewriting Mindsets, and Impacting School Culture

Thinking Outside the Box, Rewriting Mindsets, and Impacting School Culture

When Dr. Zach Bost moved from being the assistant principal of a high school to the principal of an elementary school in his district, many of his colleagues cautioned him against it. The elementary school had five principals in eight years, the staff had low morale, and the campus had a low-energy feel to it. Instead of backing down, Dr. Bost rose to the challenge to completely overhaul how the school functioned, boosting teacher, student, and community morale in the process. His implementations, made with the help of his staff, are to be admired. 

Within its first year Central Elementary School in Lucedale, Mississippi, accomplished:

  • 20% increase in enrollment
  • 99 percentile growth in every subject in all grades
  • Top 5% scores among kindergarteners in Mississippi
  • Recognition as an Edmentum Rock Star School and an America’s Entrepreneurial School by EntreEd

But, don’t just listen to us; check out the video clips below from our recent live webinar featuring Dr. Bost where he goes into detail about some of the changes he made that led to these incredible accomplishments.

Get on the Bus

When Dr. Bost first arrived on Central Elementary School’s campus, his main priority was to create a new energy within the school. He and his assistant principal built a leadership team of staff, where they went to different high-performing schools across the state of Mississippi that demonstrated to their teachers what Central Elementary School could be. He then worked with his PTA and district administrators to get the funding needed to repaint the “institutional” all-white walls to vibrant colors that would be more engaging to students and staff. He also used that money to buy copies of The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon for his staff. He passed them out before summer break saying that the administration is not going to give a book test, but they feel like this book represents the journey of who the school is today and who it wants to become. Its impact within the staff was explosive. We’ll let him explain:

(Video starts at 11:22)

Building Small Communities

Dr. Bost wanted to make sure that his students had small communities they could lean on if needed, so he took a page out of the Harry Potter series and created four “houses” within his school. Each house is a different color, and each represents a characteristic it wants to build within that student. To make sure that these houses have meaning and that students take them seriously, sorting day is a huge event on campus, where the school really goes all out. Take a listen to this video to hear the strategy behind the sorting day event, and maybe you’ll get a few ideas for your school:

(Video starts at 24:50) 

Keep to the Code

With the help of his staff-led social-emotional learning (SEL) leadership team, Dr. Bost had teachers work together and submit rules that all students on campus need to follow. The results were “the Central 42,” which are fun, but important, rules for every student on campus. The 42 rules include “make eye contact” and “being positive is a choice; choose to be positive.” The driving force behind the creation of the rules is to enforce basic social skills within students. Dr. Bost pointed out that the rules have helped create expectations among teachers and students on how to control emotions through every situation. Check out all of the 42 rules, and see how he developed teacher and student buy-in in the clip below:

 (Video starts at 37:50)

The Great Shake

Central Elementary School is recognized as an America's Entrepreneurial School by EntreEd, and one of the unique things it has implemented that aligns to the entrepreneurial mindset is called “the Great Shake.” The Great Shake is an all-day event at the school, with 30 different real-world scenario stations set up for elementary students. The school has over 80 different community and business leaders come in to help facilitate the stations. The Great Shake has multiple rounds that students compete in where they are judged on social skills such as eye contact, confidence, and greeting. The impact of the Great Shake is huge, and we’ll let Dr. Bost explain the details about getting community buy-in and tell how it impacts his students:

 (Video starts at 50:55)

These are just a few of the areas Dr. Bost discussed in the webinar. Be sure to keep watching in the video about to hear more about how he prioritizes emotional intelligence, Central Elementary’s “Walk of Champions,” and more. Interested in attending our webinars live? Check out our list of upcoming webinars here.

beth.holine's picture

Beth Holine joined Edmentum in 2011 as a Marketing Specialist. In her role, she works to provide teachers and educators with innovative, useful resources. Beth has a B.S. in Psychology from the Iowa State University.

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