'Peacemaker houses' reinforce the goal of belonging at RFES

Most area students kicked off their new year last week. Many may have wished they were headed to Hogwarts. Some students are getting a little taste of that magic with a new Peacemaker Houses program at Rodgers Forge Elementary School. Designed by Ron Clark, the House System has already been in place at Pot Spring Elementary School.

Over the summer, PSES S.T.A.T. teacher Kellie Price visited Rodgers Forge to give a presentation on the program. RFES administration was delighted to learn more about the Pot Spring experience and coupled that information with its own research and ideas to put a unique spin on this school-wide, motivating, positive behavior initiative.

Last year, members of the student government launched “We All Belong,” a campaign to help every student feel accepted. The school had previously implemented a “Peacemaker” motto to help guide general behaviors among the students. Embarking on the new school year, it was decided to tie both of those themes into a Peacemaker House System.

How it works: Every student and every staff member at Rodgers Forge Elementary School (including teachers, custodians, part-time employees, cafeteria monitors, etc.) was “sorted” into one of six houses — red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple — representing the colors the children wore when they formed a giant peace sign on the lawn during last year’s Peacemaker celebration.

At the school-wide assembly on Sept.e 4, every student was randomly assigned to one of the various color houses during a special sorting ceremony (a la Harry Potter).

Students then completed a “boot camp” reinforcing four key Expectations to be upheld throughout the school year: Be respectful, Be responsible, Be safe, Be prepared. The Expectations come directly from the established RFES Code of Conduct.

When students display behavior that exemplifies those Expectations, they earn tickets (points) for their house. Students will encourage and support each other to display positive behavior throughout the school day in an effort to earn house points and incentives.

Each month, RFES will have scheduled “House Parties,” during which students in each house will engage in fun activities related to the highlighted virtue of the month.

“Overall, it is our hope that this program helps our students work together even more to support each other in making good choices to become kind and respectful citizens,” said RFES S.T.A.T. teacher Katie Schmidt. “It should also help foster relationships between students across the various grade levels through the House Party activities.”

I believe it also sounds like a creative way to engage students and a great way to make going back to school even more fun. Good luck to all in the new school year!

Also of note, RFES is pleased to add some new staff this year: Michelle Manley, fifth-grade teacher; Nabely Solakian, Passport Spanish teacher for fourth grade; Shar’Janique Carter, lunchroom assistant; Janice Stout, additional speech/language pathologist; Barbara Shue, pupil personnel worker; and Lois Berman (former lunchroom assistant), full-time adult assistant.

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