BY Tyrell Albin
The Lawton Constitution
School teachers and administrators from around the are_a are gathering this week at Central Middle School ·to learn how to create a culture of respect and academic achievement at the annual Great Expectations Summer Institute.
The theme for this year’s institute is “Destination Excellence.”
Betty Flurry, instructional coach for GE, said about 200 educators from 51 different schools are represented at this year’s institute.
“Our focus is just excellence,” said Flurry.
Great Expectations is a professional development program designed to bring major change and innovation to public school classrooms. Founded in 1991, it is based on a belief that education is the key to solving the problems of society, that teachers want to become more skilled  in their quest to educate students and that students want to learn. The program emphasizes high expectations from students, a learning climate based on mutual respect and student self-esteem, and a belief that all students are capable of learning. It also promotes positive teacher attitudes and develops highly skilled teachers who can help students achieve success.
Many LPS schools practice the Great Expectations program.
The institute began Thesday and will run through Friday. Some participants will receive college credit for the training, but most are there to keep current on a program they believe in and have seen help their schools be better places, Flurry said.
Some are taking their first GE training course, which will introduce them to the program’s philosophy and methodology.
“These teachers will go home with many tools that will help in their classrooms,” said Flurry.
While Great Expectations, with its emphasis on character education, is most popular at the elementary school level, the program has also been making inroads at the middle and high school levels in recent years. Lawton’s MacArthur Middle School participates in the GE program. Flurry said a high school in Bay City, Mich. is also one of a small number of high schools to have adopted GE.
Flurry said there are two domains to the GE philosophy – creating a culture of respect within schools and supporting academic excellence.
Melanie Nungesser, principal of Whittier Elementary, said Thesday this is her sixth year to be involved with Great Expectations.
Whittier has been a GE Model School, the highest award given by the program, for 10 years, she said.
“Our students know what to expect,” Nungesser said.
She added Whittier has few behavioral problems and she attributes a lot of that success to the use of Great Expectations.
Woodland Hills firstgrade teacher Katy Duffy said she has been fortunate to have only taught using the Great Expectations modeL She took GE training before her first year of teaching. She said her students know she has high expectations of them and every milestone they achieve will be celebrated.
“It’s just worth your four days,” Duffy said of the summer training institute.