Written By: Hans Appel
For the past 6 months, I’ve been slowly working through a book called “Find Your Why”, by Simon Sinek. I’d seen Simon’s powerful Ted Talk years ago and like millions of other people, I devoured “Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better”, etc. At 41 years old, I thought I was pretty in touch with my WHY. But then a funny little thing entered my life this year….a whole child, school culture program called: Character Strong. But perhaps I should back up...
Those that know me well, know that I knew what I wanted to do when I was quite young. By the age of 5, I had moved past NBA basketball player and settled in on professional magician. Yes, long before thoughts of education, school counseling and helping young people; I was focused on the art of deception. I spent hours reading magic books at the public library and more time than I’d care to admit standing in front of a mirror practicing some secret sleight of hand maneuver, that I’d hope you’d never see. While I had other detours of interest like basketball, video games, and girls….magic was my first real obsession. I spent the next 15+ years studying things like misdirection, inattentional blindness, and emotional conviction. (BTW, a very strange set of skills to have at this point in my life).
Written By: Hans Appel
TIME. How often do you think about time? For the past month I’ve been thinking about it…...A LOT!
A couple years ago, our office team knew it was time to make a serious overhaul to our SEL, PBIS, and School Culture. After an exhaustive search we found dynamic programs and people to help us usher in a new an improved Enterprise Middle School. In January of 2017, we began creating a vision and plan for how, when, and why to carry out these much needed changes. During the next 7 months, we took an inordinate amount of time to prepare our staff, students, and community for real….meaningful change. My friend, John Norlin says “sometimes you have to walk slow in order to run fast." And that’s certainly what we did.
The cultural results have been incredible! Since implementing Character Strong and PBIS Rewards we’ve gone on to rebrand our school as #WildcatNation with a unified focus on Character, Excellence, and Community. If you were to ask many of our students, staff, and community….they might tell you that this intentional effort to promote kindness, service, and empathy have resulted in one of the best school years they’ve been involved with. In a recent survey, 100% of staff said they’ve seen acts of kindness increase at EMS. 95% of staff have observed students demonstrating greater empathy towards others this year. Furthermore, 98% of staff surveyed said they had seen CharacterStrong positively impact the culture and climate of EMS. On top of all of this, our school took on 1:1 devices, established a strong social media presence with our community, established a PBIS matrix, and made a concerted effort to increase school/home connectedness with home visits, collaborative events, and transparent communication. In fact, this school wide focus has been so wildly successful that we were selected to receive the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington.
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.