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Potterville Elementary School Receives National Recognition for New Curriculum

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) — Potterville Elementary School is in the spotlight after receiving national recognition for a new program that helps students develop social and emotional skills. Capturing Children’s Hearts focuses on social and emotional health, allowing them to feel more supported in the classroom. Potterville Elementary is one of 300 schools nationwide to earn the title of “National Showcase School” this year through the program.

Principal Patrick O’Rourke said it helps administrators and teachers be more intentional about building relationships with students and learning prosocial behavior. O’Rourke said, “At school they’ll get five or eight ‘hellos’ before they even get to their locker.”

The program was implemented two years ago across the district. Teachers enter into class 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 from our social contract that you want to focus on. let’s focus on commitment today, let’s focus on patience today. We also reflect on the end of the day, so “How do you think you did?”

Rather than focusing on punishment, the goal is for children 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 allows to think about this behavior. What are you doing? What are you supposed to do? Let’s go around. I’m going to give you this opportunity to turn things around, so it’s really diminished the behaviors.

School officials have noticed that students are happier since being introduced to the program. There’s even a chalkboard in the hallway where kids can write positive affirmations to their classmates.

O’Rourke said: “They can set them up for their own class, for their teachers, they can set them up for other classes. It was amazing. In three and a half weeks, we have about 290 children, we have more than 700 affirmations on them.

Love keeps on giving. Wolfe said one of his students was eager to share his claims. She said: “I had a student say to me ‘before I go to bed at night I think of the good thing I’m going to share tomorrow. It really is, even though you may not have been to school or you can’t be with friends, they still think of those good things.

Potterville is one of the only school districts in the area to offer the program, which runs from kindergarten through 12th grade. Officials said parents told them they had noticed the positive effects extending to their lives at home, thanks to the reinforcement they received at school.

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