- Associated Press - Friday, July 28, 2017

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Students at Clarksville Middle School got a warm and a magical welcome on their first day back to school Wednesday.

Teachers and staff greeted the children dressed in full spirit wear - blue lipstick, red Mohawks, giant bowties.

Building principal Nikki Bullington, wearing all red, even down to the tutu, explained to the students that “the building was magical” and because of that they were going to do something magical on the first day, too.

Taking a page from the Harry Potter series, Clarksville Middle School sorted each student into four different houses.

According to Bullington, the idea stemmed from the sorting hat made famous Potter and his school Hogwarts, but the principles and goals the educator hopes to achieve comes from The Ron Clark Academy.

Based out of Atlanta, The Ron Clark Academy is a nonprofit middle school that is recognized internationally for its academic achievements, according to its website. It hosts hands-on workshops that train other educators from across the country.

“I have a core group of seven people that are Ron Clark trained. They are at different grade levels, in different roles. We are trying to improve the school community atmosphere,” Bullington said.

Bullington took her seven staff that are trained, put them on a House Committee and tasked them with designing a way to implement some of the training they had received. The ceremony on Wednesday was the first step of that plan.

“The members of the committee had to come to a meeting with five character words that meant something to them. We put them all on a SmartBoard, scratched off duplicate words, voted and came up with four (character words),” Bullington said.

Kindness. Unity. Civility. Tolerance.

Those words became the building blocks the committees built the houses on which the students were sorted into Wednesday.

Students plucked laminated construction paper out of a velvet top hat - the “sorting hat.”

The paper was either green, blue, red or black and represented the house that student stays in the rest of their time at Clarksville Middle School.

A blue paper signified the Wema House. Swahili for kindness, teachers in the Wema House push their fledglings to be kind, courteous, respectful and make the world a better place, according to Tammy Haub, a Clarksville teacher and member of House Wema.

A black slip gets a student into the Umoja House, which translates to unity. Perhaps the most tech savvy of the four houses already, House Umoja has coined the hashtag “#doumoja?”.

The third house, House Ustarrabu, means civility.

“It’s about teaching students how to treat others, the community and themselves . how to be kind and helpful. It’s about character education,” said Rebecca Anderson, proudly wearing her red T-shirt to show her House Ustarrabu pride.

Hardest to pronounce, Kuvumiliana translates to tolerance. Students in this house donned green T-shirts.

Students across the board got T-shirts, noisemakers and different goodies to ramp up the energy.

Each week there will be a theme to promote some of the core values behind each houses’ name.

“Week to week, we are going to challenge our students to look at different places they want to grow in. when responding to adult, they need to say yes sir or no ma’am,” Bullington said. “Do they make eye contact, do they talk back? It will be building each week. At the end of the year, we will have this thing full-blown.

They are going to be rewarded with house points only by teachers not in their house. There are going to be prizes for the house with most points every trimester and most weeks. It’s all about the rewards… There has to be tokens of appreciation for their hard work.”


Source: (Jeffersonville) News and Tribune, https://bit.ly/2eRbYwU


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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