Written By: Hans Appel
A few months ago, I was asked to review Jimmy Casas and Jeffrey Zoul’s OUTSTANDING new book “Stop. Right. Now.” It’s the type of book that entices you to examine educational practices with fresh eyes. Stop. Right. Now. offers readers thirty-nine culture killers coupled with an exceptional how-to guide to avoid common pitfalls. I’d like to add #40 to the list...
In my district, secondary schools start at 7:55a.m. Many students arrive to school around 7:15-7:45a.m...with the bulk of students showing up by car, bus, or bike around 7:30. Other parts of the country operate on different daily bell schedules but the overall timeline of students arriving approximately 20-30 minutes prior to school starting seems to be fairly universal.
There are schools around the country that INTENTIONALLY lock students out of hallways in the morning until the first bell. This leaves most of the students unsupervised, unconnected, and out in the cold weather for nearly 20-30+ minutes. Some school houses do allow students into the building (usually a cafeteria or gym) but do not let them down the hallway or into classrooms until the bell rings.
Written By: Hans Appel
“Empathy is the root of humanity and the foundation that helps our children become good, caring people. But the Empathy Advantage gives them a huge edge at happiness and success”
-Dr. Michele Borba, Author of “Unselfie”
Dr. Tim Elmore, from growing leaders says that the average student today has as much anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950’s. In an increasingly anxiety ridden society it’s scary to know that Borba’s research indicates that as anxiety goes up empathy goes down. In fact, just since 2012, empathy has dropped 29% in college age students which came on the heels of a 40% drop in empathy among college students between 2000-2010. This frightening inverse relationship between anxiety and empathy makes sense; if students are more stressed, worried, and anxious about their own lives, its harder to focus on what’s going on in other’s lives.
Award Winning Culture welcomes ongoing critical examination of a school’s current educational practices, and intentionally infuses relevant Whole Child strategies into the school’s ecosystem.
It’s no surprise that empathy is a key soft skill that Whole Child focused schools are actively teaching. Thanks to programs like Character Strong, empathy is becoming a point of emphasis in the same vein as core subject areas (Math, Science, ELA, etc.) have always been. By zeroing in on empathy, kindness, and service, Character Strong’s servant leadership model of social emotional learning and character development offers a powerful and necessary #FutureDriven approach to education. Indeed, in an ever changing, unstable world filled with technology, fear, and a me-first mentality, empathy and kindness seem to be a revelatory anecdote to hate.
Our Award Winning Culture (AWC) Podcast students are some of our strongest leaders at Wildcat Nation. These students lead daily efforts in making kindness normal at Enterprise Middle School and help set the standard for positive school culture. Frankly, in 18 years of education, some of my brightest, most talented high character leaders are found in my current AWC podcast group.
Written By: Hans Appel
Does your school culture evoke tears of joy?
A little over a year ago, I arranged for our local KNDU/NBC news station to send someone out to do a story on our school during the Anti-Bullying month of October. I was told that they’d be there no longer than 45 minutes, as they had an important story on the other side of town that same morning. While the manager allowed for ¾ of an hour he fully expected his reporter to be in and out in about 20 minutes.
As the news reporter arrived on campus nearly 30 minutes before school was to start she was struck by our daily Wildcat Nation greeting. At Enterprise Middle School, we start every day with high fives, fist bumps, music and warm hellos as people walk in the main entrances. It’s an intentional move to increase school positivity and school spirit through personal connection.
After taking footage and soaking up our spectacular start to school she was off to do some student interviews. She asked students what it’s like to go to EMS, what Wildcat Nation really means, and how our Character Strong program changed things. What started off as a 45 minute stop in West Richland, turned into over 3 hours! Frankly, we couldn’t get her to leave. She was having an absolute blast! She interviewed dozens of students, teachers, even attended a leadership class.
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.