Our Community Vision
We all belong. We are all significant. As we work, learn and play, we come together with compassion and respect.
Six years ago, when my oldest son, Ronan, was in 2nd grade at another school, I began a long and tedious search for a school that would provide him with a richer learning experience. As I sat in my car on West Parr Avenue and watched the Village kids through the railing (a stalker of sorts!), I knew I had found a special place. I could feel the happiness that emanated from the entire community. Kids of all ages played together. Older kids held the hands of little kids. Parents mingled. There was laughter and joy everywhere. And at those times when there was some sadness, there was support and problem-solving. More than anything, it seemed that everyone felt like they belonged. I wanted my son and our family to be a part of that. We didn’t get placed at Village when I applied for 3rd grade but we were lucky enough to get a slot in 4th grade, and so began two of the best years of Ronan’s education thus far. My younger son, Sean, has been fortunate enough to be at Village since Kinder and I am feeling sad that we only have two years left here.
Ronan is now in 8th Grade at our local public middle school. I can say for sure that those two years he spent at Village gave him the best preparation possible for middle school. He has thrived both academically and socially-emotionally, and is now more than ready for his transition into high school. If you would like to read more about our family, you can take a peek at my interview with the Village Voice team last year (click here). But in this article I want to focus on that feeling of happiness I felt permeate Village when I looked through the railing six years ago, and which today would be described by a new term: “Positive School Climate.”
Village School was founded in 1995 on the premise that a positive school environment provides the best learning experience for our children. Twenty years later, this concept still holds true. As Principal David has said: “This community of learners works tirelessly to create a learning environment that engages children, placing an emphasis on more than just academic achievement. Village School is a learning community that values the whole child, developing life-long habits of mind, both academically and socially-emotionally.“
In 2014, the California School Boards Association defined eight state priorities, one of which was “School Climate.” As a result, School Climate has very recently become a focus item for all of our public state schools. Santa Clara County of Education hosted it’s 2nd annual School Climate Symposium in April this year (click here to view the workshops and some of the presentations). Campbell Union School District includes as one of it’s Strategic Goals for 2015-2018: “address the academic, social and emotional needs of all students” (click here for more info).
At Village, the term “Positive School Climate” was introduced last year and it embraces all of the tools we have used since our founding and some new tools that we have added in recent years to create a positive environment for our students, staff and families. All of these tools have a specific purpose but their use is intertwined and each tool builds on facets of another tool. In addition, Village is a Positive Discipline school and therefore we look at all of our Positive School Climate tools through this Positive Discipline lens.
Last year, Village submitted a 4 page essay on our Positive School Climate as part of our application for a California Distinguished School Award (click here to read the essay). Our success in achieving this award is a testament to the importance of having a Positive School Climate.
A graphic depicting Village’s Positive School Climate tools is shown below.
Role of the Positive School Climate Chair
The Position of Positive School Climate Chair was created this school year to provide support for those teams that did not have a representative on the Board, in particular, Positive Discipline, No Bully, Project Cornerstone and PBIS. We expanded the role to also include growing our Community Outreach program so that it becomes an integral part of our school, and supporting our parent, staff and student relationships.
Positive School Climate Tools at Village
What does Positive Discipline mean exactly? The Positive Discipline approach, authored by Dr. Jane Nelsen, and based on the research of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, teaches the importance of belonging and significance, respect for all people, encouragement, strategies for addressing behavior challenges, and the development of problem solving and communication skills. This is done experientially and in a manner that is respectful to both adults and children.
- Helps children feel a sense of connection. (Belonging and significance.)
- Is mutually respectful and encouraging. (Kind and firm at the same time.)
- Is effective long-term. (Considers what the child is thinking, feeling, learning, and deciding about himself and his world – and what to do in the future to survive or to thrive.)
- Teaches important social and life skills. (Respect, concern for others, problem solving, and cooperation as well as the skills to contribute to the home, school or larger community.)
- Invites children to discover how capable they are. (Encourages the constructive use of personal power and autonomy.)
At Village School, you will find…
- Children engaged in problem-solving discussions during class meetings and on the playground.
- Children referring to our Wheel Of Choice when needed.
- Children taking responsibility for their actions, helping one another, and working things out together.
- Adults speaking firmly but kindly when kids make mistakes and need redirection.
- Happy children who know they are loved, they are capable, and they matter.
Our administration and our PTA fully support the training of our staff and our parents in Positive Discipline. This way, we will all speak the same language. Our teachers have each taken a 2-day Positive Discipline workshop during their time at Village. Teachers Michele and Aline just completed their workshop in late April! All of our staff will take a 1-day Positive Discipline refresher workshop during their first in-service day at the start of the next school year. Positive Discipline classes are offered for free to all of our parents several times during the school year and all of our parents commit to taking these classes during their first 3 years at Village. At the beginning of each school year, all new parents take a Positive Discipline class and all returning parents take a refresher class. The trainers for all of these parent classes are themselves Village parents who have invested many hours learning to be a trainer and then sharing their knowledge with our community. We are extremely grateful for their commitment!
Project Cornerstone was founded in 1999 after a survey showed that most youth in Santa Clara County are missing the positive relationships, opportunities, values, and skills— known collectively as “developmental assets”—that provide the foundation for a healthy, successful future. In general, the more developmental assets that young people possess, the more likely they are to avoid risky behaviors and engage in positive, healthy activities. The Project Cornerstone School Partnerships program empowers all members of the school community to reduce bullying, promote achievement and help all students feel valued and respected. Adults have been actively building assets in Village students since its inception through the following programs:
How do we ensure our kids will thrive? How can you show your support for your child’s efforts & dreams? How can you know what’s most important in helping your child succeed academically and in life? Are there enough positive adults in your child’s life? This highly impactful “Take It Personally” six-session class gives parents tips and tools to keep up with the fast changing growth of our children, tweens and teens. Each week, the class explores new ways to build stronger kids, stronger families and stronger neighborhoods. This is a wonderful class that is facilitated by our Parent Ed team and is offered for free to all of our parents (who make a commitment to take this class some time during 3rd-5th grade).
Asset Building Champions (ABC) Program
Our ABC Reading Program delivers specific asset building and anti-bullying curriculum to our children. Once a month, parent volunteers read specific books geared to each age group and follow up the reading with a discussion and activity that engages the kids and reinforces the points made in the book.. Click here to read about our ABC readers this year and click here to learn more about this wonderful program.
Cornerstone Kids offers our 4th and 5th grade students extra leadership opportunities by modeling positive behavior and helping the younger ones in problem-solving on the playground during recess times. All 4th and 5th graders participate in Expect Respect bullying prevention workshops. This year’s activities are being led by parents Rob Rothrock and Jill Reynolds (who is also one of our teachers!).
Click here to read more about Project Cornerstone at Village.
The No Bully System® is a step-by-step process and set of interventions to prevent and stop bullying in schools. It guides school leaders and staff through a series of interventions for responding to bullying and harassment, depending on the severity of the incident. When severe or persistent bullying occurs, teachers facilitate Solution Teams®, where the target’s peer group and the bully come together to stop the bullying. In line with our Positive Discipline philosophy, this system provides a way of responding to bullying at school in a caring and compassionate way. “This evidence-based approach leverages the empathy and kindness inherent in all of us.” (No Bully). To learn more about No Bully, visit their website at http://www.nobully.com/. The No Bully organization has created a video highlighting the success and impact the No Bully program has had on our Village Community. Click here to view this fantastic video.
To learn more about No Bully at Village, click here, here and here.
Our Community Vision Statement also came about because of the No Bully Program:
We all belong. We are all significant.
As we work, learn and play, we come together with compassion and respect.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based approach for establishing a positive social culture in schools. It is a data driven program that focuses on improving a school’s ability to teach and support positive behavior for all students. PBIS has been adopted by Santa Clara County of Education (click here to learn more) and, subsequently, by all schools in Campbell Union School District. Our Positive School Climate Team, made up of parents, teachers, staff and administrators, has been trained in PBIS and many components of this tool have been integrated into our Positive Discipline model. There are three groups within this team and they meet regularly as appropriate for the different needs (Tier 1: School-Wide Prevention Practices; Tier 2: Targeted Group Interventions; Tier 3: Individual, Intensive Intervention).
PBIS has three core values – Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe. In alignment with these we created our “Village Values” (our M&MS):
- Model Respect
- Make Good Choices
- Solve Problems
These values permeate all of our children’s learning and are reinforced every month with a school-wide rally (hosted by a different grade each month). This year, the theme of each rally is tied in to the ABC Reader book for that month. As you walk though our campus, you will see PBIS Expectations posters in our courtyard and in the classrooms. These posters define expected behaviors and voice levels. Our Fuzzy Grams, which have been in place at Village for many years, are used by adults and children to acknowledge each other and show our appreciation.
Community Service at Village
One of my goals as Positive School Climate Chair is to highlight the Community Service efforts we already have in place at Village and also to grow our program further so that it becomes an integral part of our school. Here are some of the Community Service projects that have taken place this year…
In the Classroom
- Sea Otter Conservation Project (1st grade) – click here to read more
- 100 Acts of Kindness (4th Grade)
- Loaves & Fishes Field Trip and Food Drive (2nd Grade)
- Toy Drive & Holiday Cards for foster children – click here to read more
- Food Drive
- Pennies For Patients
- Jump Rope For Heart
- Color Our Week With Kindness
Our Resources page on the Village Hub (click here) and also repeated in this issue of the Village Voice (click here) contains a list of Community Service opportunities available locally that are suitable for Elementary School age children. We hope you find this page useful when looking for opportunities both at home and at school. We want to continue to expand this list. Please contact me at pscchair [at] villagehub.org to share Community Service opportunities and we will add them to our current list. Thank you!
We have applied to the eBay Foundation for a grant to support a school-wide Community Service program at Village. We would like to host a meal packaging event through the organization Stop Hunger Now (more info here). We need $2,900 which would allow us to package 1000 meals. A huge thank you to Galia Tchvikhovskaia, Mom to 3rd Grader Tanya and an eBay employee, for initiating this!
We are in the process of purchasing a license for the movie “The Mask You live In” and its associated curriculum (more info here). This movie explores the impact that our narrow definition of masculinity is having on boys, men and society in general. This is a very powerful movie and I recommend it to every parent, educator, coach… pretty much every adult. We will have a showing of the movie at Village in September (date TBD).
Listed above are just some of the ways that we build a Positive School Climate at Village. Every day we all strive to create a positive environment for our students, teachers and parents. Thank you to each and every one of you for being a part of this!
By Aine O’Donovan, Positive School Climate Chair and Parent of Go Go Banana Sean