Pickerington Elementary School this spring was recognized by the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators for going above and beyond state standards to meet the education needs of students.
Last week, faculty members from Pickerington Elementary traveled to Sandusky, Ohio, to attend a statewide conference about elementary school education hosted by the OAESA.
The local teachers and staff members also attended the event to be recognized as an OAESA 2014 Hall of Fame School, a distinction given to the school in large part for developing programs that foster student learning by encouraging good behavior and leadership.
"The Hall of Fame Award reinforces that we are an excellent school," said Melissa Moriarty, Pickerington Elementary School principal.
"It's wonderful to be recognized for the effort our students, staff and parents put in on a daily basis.
"We are extremely proud to have earned the award and will strive to continue to provide our students a well-rounded education to help them move forward academically, socially and behaviorally so they will be great people, citizens and leaders.
We believe we must teach and encourage students to be the best they can be."
The Columbus-based OAESA provides professional development, legal consultation, professional publications and networking opportunities to Ohio's pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school administrators.
According to the OAESA, the Hall of Fame School Award recognizes schools that go above and beyond the call of duty to get students, teachers and community members excited about education.
Moriarty said Pickerington Elementary was recognized for several initiatives which sought to improve academic performance in grades K-4 by setting goals for classroom work and for behavior during school hours.
Among those efforts was the development of Pickerington Elementary's "7 Habits of Happy Kids," which borrowed from author Stephen Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Through Pickerington Elementary's "7 Habits," teachers and staff sought to build leadership among students by:
• Being proactive -- Students were encouraged to maintain positive attitudes and maintain high morals by "doing the right thing."
• Begin with the end in mind -- Students were instructed to plan ahead and set goals for classroom projects and to "be a good citizen."
• Put first things first -- A time-management practice in which students were encouraged to say "no" to things they should not do and to spend time on the most "important things."
• Think win-win -- Students were told to consider how their actions would impact others and to be kind and mindful of others' feelings.
• Seek first to understand and then be understood -- Teachers and staff sought to instill the importance of listening to others' ideas and feelings and to avoid interrupting.
• Synergize -- Students were taught to value others' strengths and learn from them.
• Sharpen the saw -- Students learned the importance of eating nutritious foods, exercising and getting adequate sleep.
To facilitate the "7 Habits," Tiger Teams were established in which groups of students chose special events or projects to promote everything from health and wellness to local beautification and environmental work.
"Tiger teams met once a month and were a highlight of the students' day," Moriarty said. "Since they were so successful, we will continue with Tiger Teams next year."
Additionally, school music teacher Erika Schoenbeck worked with students to teach songs with leadership themes, and second-grade teacher Angela Rogers created "Tiger Tickets," which were handed out for good deeds.
Students kept track of learning and behavioral goals in notebooks, and they also worked with their parents, the school's Parent-Teacher Organization and local businesses on projects like community food and toy drives.
Those students who reached goals or exhibited leadership qualities also were recognized as leaders during monthly announcements, and t-shirts and charms were given to them to honor their achievements.
Moriarty said those efforts helped Pickerington Elementary receive the Hall of Fame distinction, as well as a $1,000 grant given to award winners.
"We will use the $1,000 toward charms that all of our students can earn for following classroom and school rules, for meeting academic goals and displaying the seven habits," she said.
"We will also use the money for the Leadership T-shirts given to our student leaders of the month."