By Emily Droege of the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise
By cultivating respect, understanding and open communication among students and staff, Bartlesville public schools are helping mold well-rounded members of society, according to the executive director of the Great Expectations program.
Speaking at a recent Monday Noon Bartlesville Rotary Club meeting, Linda Dzialo explained how Great Expectations adopted by Bartlesville schools offers educators the skills to bring harmony and excitement into school environments.
“It all starts with the teacher. The teacher can’t say, “Oh those kids today, they don’t have any manners. They don’t have any respect.” The teacher must model what we want the student to do,” said Dzialo.
Wilson Elementary School was the first school in the Bartlesville Public School District to be recognized as a GE Model School, and all other schools have followed. Bartlesville Mid-High School became the first high school in Oklahoma to be awarded GE Model School status.
Dzialo explained that the program consists of eight expectations that are achieved through 17 principles. The eight expectations give students and staff practices to adhere to and the principles enforce the eight expectations.
“The life principles are woven into the instruction everyday. Things like citizenship, commitment, common sense, compassion, courage and so on. These are all life principles. They are not particular to any creed or religion. These are common values that we as a country hold,” she said.
In order to be considered a Model School, a school site is evaluated by a Great Expectations mentor and must meet a specific set of criteria outlined by the Great Expectations program. According to Dzialo, teachers are trained in the Great Expectations methodology during a four-day institute, typically held in the summer.
“We train the teachers in our methodology, we support them with coaches and then we have a leadership academy for the principals,” she said.
The GE Model also involves teachers to shift to student-centered instruction, where students are engaged and involved in classroom learning.
“Every student in a classroom must know they are part of a lesson, and they will be called on, and at any time they’re going to be part of an activity,” said Dzialo. “Young people don’t want to be lectured and then answer the questions at the end of the chapter. They want to know how this is going to impact ‘my life.’ And when we make learning real, then it comes to life for the students.”
BPSD school board members and administrators set the goal to reach model district status by having all schools become model sites by May 2016. The goal was accomplished three years early, establishing the district as a statewide leader in the program.
Established first in Oklahoma and based in Tahlequah, Great Expectations has trained educators in 18 states.