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Districtwide program helps staff connect with students

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A new program known as Capturing Kids' Hearts has been implemented across Delta County Joint School District #50, from the cafeteria to the bus to the classroom. The program underscores how adults impact the lives of students every day.

"Capturing Kids' Hearts is a program to help us create healthy relationships," said superintendent Caryn Gibson. She speaks of the relationships between students and adults, as well as the relationships among staff and community members.

Capturing Kids' Hearts is a process for instruction and leadership in education. By teaching students respect and responsibility, it's also seen as a great way to elevate academic and behavioral standards, Gibson said.

"We can't always control what comes into our schools, but once we have students in our classroom, this training will help us better relate and create higher achieving classrooms for all students."

Staff training began this summer with team building activities. School board president Tammy Smith said she went to a training session with the intention of observing for a few minutes and was so intrigued she wound up staying all day.

By outlining expectations from the start, Capturing Kids' Hearts is expected to cut down on disciplinary issues. Trust is an important element of the program, with each teacher building a personal connection with their students. With a strong personal connection and shared expectations, all parties approach conflict from a position of mutual respect. Both students and staff are expected to manage and accept responsibility for their own behavior.

"This is really not brand new," Smith said. "It's just a different way of looking at things.

"The reality is, sometimes a kid's outlook can affect their conduct in the classroom," Smith said. Many times classroom disruptions, or instances of kids acting out, are manifestations of an occurrence outside of school. With a positive approach to the school day, student focus is brought back to the task at hand.

In addition to student behavior, the nationally recognized program supports character education, bully prevention, safe school initiatives and career preparation.

"It will be really interesting to see how this works out," Smith said.

The number of expulsions, suspensions and office referrals will be the primary tools for measuring success.

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