For those who need a little pick me up or a heart-swelling moment where you cannot help but smile, peek inside any classroom at McCall Primary School in the morning where students stand together singing and holding hands. Bend down and listen as these five, six, and seven-year-olds encourage one another. Watch as the youngest learners teach the adults how to appreciate the unique way each person shines.
If you ask a McCall teacher what’s behind the school transformation, they will say it is the result of their focus on the whole child, not just the academic side but the social-emotional well-being of each student. They teach the students the importance of these five words: self, heart, inspire, navigate, and exceptional.
The McCall educators have used the Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. framework from LaVonna Roth to guide them as they set out to teach students that each one is honored and valued.
The goal? To build upon each student’s unique strengths, gifts, and talents so that they are bursting with confidence and can go out and illuminate the world.
McCall’s journey with Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. began through the relationship forged between kindergarten teacher Lori Webber and LaVonna Roth following a Cobb Schools development event.
Webber introduced the S.H.I.N.E. lessons to her class for 12 weeks. From their morning meeting, and the way they interacted, to the way they welcomed each other every morning, Webber and her students incorporated what they learned into all aspects of their daily classroom routine.
The students developed a curiosity and love for sign language, which is used to teach each letter of S.H.I.N.E., so they would ask Ms. Webber to teach them a new sign every day, which they would use to greet her in the morning. At the end of the year, her students published a class book and chose to write it about how each one of them “shines”.
Webber’s students were so empowered by their new learning of how they S.H.I.N.E. that they noticed the words in the acronym everywhere…in books, on shirts, and even in what people said. They began to wear shirts with positive messages on them which would be a catalyst for a discussion for the day. Her students picked up on the power of the word YET featured in the letter ‘N’ for navigate and would use it to encourage one another when they would struggle with something. Likewise, they used the S.H.I.N.E. concepts in their acceptance of each other by saying, “It’s ok because we all S.H.I.N.E. in different ways.”
Because of the social-emotional impact of these lessons on her students, the kindergarten class was thriving. After learning of the impact of her program on Webber’s students, LaVonna Roth agreed to speak to the entire school and gave McCall lifetime access to her lessons.
Witnessing the program’s impact, McCall Primary embraced Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. schoolwide. They have a committee of Illuminators that help facilitate the implementation of Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. on a school level. They have brought S.H.I.N.E. into our weekly newsletters, morning announcements, school promise, bulletin boards, morning music, school displays, and staff shirts. They have also created a list of books, quotes, music, as well as, a One Note notebook that contains all school resources to help each teacher get started.
McCall now has a weekly Shine-ing Shout Out drawing where one student is featured on the morning announcements for a way that they have shown SHINEtastic behavior towards a classmate. Each student who earns a shout out gets to wear a sticker that says, “Ask me how I S.H.I.N.E.” When people see the sticker, there is an opportunity for a conversation so the student can share the SHINEtastic things he or she is doing. This common language is a powerful way to engage everyone in the school and develop a positive school culture where each and every person shines.
This year, McCall has three teachers in the Teacher Leader Academy. For their legacy project, they decided to create a S.H.I.N.E. Squad that consists of students in Webber’s class last year that already experienced a year of Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.
According to the McCall teachers, this gives those students an opportunity to serve as school leaders. They welcome guests to the building, help with morning announcement features, and have a monthly after school meeting where they bring in students in the after-school program and work together on a service project for the school or community. They are learning how to use their gifts, strengths, and talents to give back and serve others in a positive and powerful way. Next year’s S.H.I.N.E. Squad will feature students who embraced S.H.I.N.E. and will continue to illuminate its’ impact in the next school year.
The social and emotional well being of students at McCall Primary is soaring thanks to the impact made by Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.
Imagine the difference in the community that is possible because of the foundation being instilled in these children from such an early age.