Punch and cake were served, confetti filled the air, and high fives were handed out all around on Thursday afternoon as staff members from Woodrow Wilson Elementary celebrated the announcement that their site had achieved Great Expectations model school status.
A mentor with Great Expectations who has worked extensively within the Bartlesville Public School District, Betty Sheofee made the announcement as Wilson staff members and other BPSD officials gathered in the school library.
"It takes a lot of hard work," noted Sheofee, "but you did it.
Great Expectations is a professional development program which offers educators the skills they need to bring harmony and excitement into their school environments. The program’s teaching/training model is guided by six basic tenets: "High Expectations," "Teacher Attitude and Responsibility," "All Children Can Learn," "Building Self-Esteem," "Climate of Mutual Respect" and "Teacher Knowledge and Skill."
The Great Expectations program is now in its 21st year and has been widely embraced by the BPSD, which has a stated goal of training all of its teachers and administrators in at least the Great Expectations basic methodology within their initial three years of employment in the district. The Oklahoma State Department of Education is a strong proponent of the program as well and has provided funding for training in the past.
Wilson is the first school within the BPSD, which boasts 10 sites in all, to earn model school status. As a Great Expectations model school, Wilson will serve as a showcase site for other educators who want to learn how the program can serve their students and educators.
"We are now open to the public for anyone to come in and observe us," says Wilson principal Tammie Krause. "It feels great to have achieved model school status. We have worked hard to achieve this. It’s something that our staff has been committed to.
"I’m excited that we’ve made this step."
As schools begin to embrace Great Expectations and its philosophies, of? cials with the organization classify those sites based on how much of the methodology has been implemented. Schools can progress from "transitional" to "progressive" to the final level of "model" status. To be considered a model school, of? cials must prove that at their site, 90 to 100 percent of their teachers are successfully implementing 100 percent of the Great Expectations classroom practices on a daily basis.
There are 17 classroom practices in all, and they focus on areas such as ensuring the success of every student, promoting critical thinking among the youngsters, and promoting a positive, caring and disciplined educational environment.
Krause applied to have Wilson recognized as a Great Expectations model school in September. An unannounced visit from Mary Legan, a retired principal from Claremore who is now a consultant with Great Expectations, followed last week. During her visit, Legan dropped in on random classes at the school to make sure Wilson educators were implementing the Great Expectations methodology.
Legan liked what she saw at Wilson, and on Thursday, Sheofee announced the school’s achievement to staff members in the library as BPSD superintendent Dr. Gary W. Quinn and executive director of elementary curriculum Dianne Martinez looked on.
"Great Expectations has brought the culture to our students, staff members and parents as to how we want to treat each other and interact," notes Krause. "We use Great Expectations principles in everything we do and say."
Rooted in Great Expectations philosophies is the school’s "Wake Up, Wilson" assembly, which takes place ? rst thing every morning in the gymnasium. The assembly is student-led and allows everyone to start their day on the right foot. Children share news during the gatherings, are recognized for awards and even give some arts demonstrations, such as singing performances.
The opportunity to lead the assemblies rotates throughout the school, and by the time a given academic year is complete, every student will have had a chance to guide one of the gatherings.
"I’m very proud of everyone in our building for the hard work and commitment they have made to this process," says Krause. "Being recognized by Betty Sheofee during the event in the library was great."More recognition will follow. The coming months will see Wilson honored by the Oklahoma State Department of Education with a special certi? cate noting its model school status. On Jan. 20, a special celebration at Wilson is planned.
Though a national program, Great Expectations is rooted in Oklahoma. The Great Expectations Foundation was originated in 1991 by Charlie Hollar of Ponca City. Great Expectations began as an elementary-level program but has since evolved to encompass secondary schools, also. For the last four years, the BPSD has played host to a Great Expectations summer workshop. An estimated 90 district educators took part in this year’s event.
Along with Martinez, Quinn took time to speak to the staff members during Thursday’s celebration recognizing Wilson as a Great Expectations model school.
"We are extremely proud that Wilson has become the ? rst site within the district to achieve model school status," says Quinn. "We look forward to our other sites following their lead and becoming model schools as well.
"Great Expectations is an excellent program, and we have wholly embraced it as a district. We always strive to offer the best education possible to each and every student in our care, and Great Expectations is helping us to achieve that goal."
Posted on Sun, November 27, 2011
by Greg Boyles