SCES Teams

Social Circle Elementary School launched a new initiative to improve student performance and behavior through reinforcing team unity throughout the school. Above, Team Coraje — Spanish for courage — celebrate at the first team pep rally in the new program.

It all began as a front porch conversation: how can students, teachers, other staff and parents see themselves as a cohesive unit working together to accomplish common goals? 

“My husband remembered a slogan from his army days: ‘Cooperate to Graduate,’” Beth Pridgen, principal of Social Circle Elementary School, said. “In basic training, those groups of soldiers who were able to work together, to encourage each other and to build team spirit were far more likely to graduate in a shorter amount of time.”

The idea was floated to the SCES Leadership Team at the end of the  2016-2017 school year. The team members enthusiastically embraced the concept and batted around several ideas.

After a lengthy discussion that lasted for days, a plan was launched and the TEAM initiative began. The 16 homerooms were divided into cross-grade level teams and all staff members were assigned to a team. Names and colors were designated for the teams and the Parent Teacher Organization purchased T-shirts for everyone.

Finally the day for the “reveal” arrived when everyone found out which team they were on – Coraje (Courage) Red,  Aroha (Compassion) Blue, Dagewa (Persistence) Yellow, and Gnavitas (Enthusiasm) Green.

“Each name representing a different area of the globe and a positive character trait,” Pridgen said. “Students, teachers and staff received their T-shirts and the team concept was explained.”

Class Dojo is a program that allows teachers and staff to visually record positive points and to take away points throughout the school day. Parents can also see the points and receive comments from teachers.

“Students love choosing their avatar and seeing those positive points awarded for behaviors outlined in our Positive Behavioral Instructional Supports program,” Pridgen said. “An overall goal for 75 percent total positive points throughout the school was set.”

 Each month students and staff will gather in the gym to determine which team has the highest percentage of positive points. The team with the highest percentage of positive points at the end of the year will receive a trophy and a very special opportunity.

“We’ve had one ‘pep rally’ so far, but it was amazing,” Pridgen said. “Parents and teachers decorated doors and classrooms with team colors the morning prior. In the halls, students were able to observe students from other grades who were on their same team. Students proudly wore their team shirt and chanted their team slogan as they entered the gym and sat in color blocks.”

The current winner and positions of the other teams was announced at the pep rally and Pridgen said it was a great first step in making the program more effective in improving student behavior and performance across the school.

“Students realized then that in order to be the overall winner at the end of the year, they had to do their part as an individual to the benefit of their team,” Pridgen said.

Stephen Milligan is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.