CIS to adopt house model

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, July 24, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Creating a sense of belonging through healthy competition is the goal of a new program coming to Clanton Intermediate School this fall.

Patterned after the Ron Clarke Academy in Atlanta, the program divides students and staff into houses to promote comradery and help students develop self-confidence.

Principal Louise Pitts outlined the program in a presentation to the Clanton City Council during a meeting on July 23.

“We are very excited about it,” Pitts said. “We think it is a very positive way to build self-esteem and self-confidence and character in these children that will carry over academically.”

Students will be randomly divided into houses with a mixture of students in third through fifth grades.

“Our house system will be set up to produce better citizens and with that we have set up six expectations, and one of those is to train our children or to teach our children, to give effort in everything that they do,” Pitts said. “…  The purpose for executing the house system is to provide every student in each house the chance at the following things: a sense of belonging in a school community; opportunities to develop social, intellectual, physical and practical skills; achievement inside and outside the classroom; fun and excitement through healthy competition; opportunities for leadership.”

Pitts said the fifth-grade students will be mentors to the third-grade students.

Students will receive points for their house when teachers or staff observe them doing something good, such as picking up trash in the hallway or helping another student.

The flag of the house with the most points will fly in front of the school each week.

Teacher Brooke Sullivan said every adult at the school would also be in one of the houses.

Over the summer, teachers decided which house they would like to be a part of. Each of the six houses will have multiple teachers and staff as a part of it.

Each house is named for a character trait, such as courage, giving, friendly, etc.

Pitts highlighted the importance of instilling confidence in students.

“If students do not have that confidence, students cannot achieve academically what they are capable of doing,” Pitts said.

Opportunities for parent involvement would also be incorporated into the program.

Also during the presentation, Pitts highlighted that on the last state report card CIS had the highest scores in the county and was higher than the state score.

Pitts asked the City Council for $5,000 to assist in starting the program. These funds would be used for T-shirts and flags specific to each house, periodic recognition of a leading house and an end of year party for the house with the most points.

“We think this might be the thing some of our students really need, and then our enrichment children it will give them something powerful, too, to take with them through life,” Pitts said.

Based on the free and reduced lunch participation, Pitts said 68 percent of CIS students are considered in the low socio-economic range.

Title 1 funds, which are also based on the percentage of those in the free and reduced lunch program, can be used to fund this program, however, Pitts said these funds will not be available to the school until December. Title 1 funds and possibly school fundraisers would be used to fund the program in future years.

While the City Council seemed to like the concept, members were hesitant to commit funding.

Councilman Bobby Cook said the program had not been considered in the current budget and planning had not begun on the 2018-2019 budget.

“I don’t see that we have it right now,” Cook said.

Mayor Billy Joe Driver expressed concern about “setting a precedent” for future requests in subsequent years from CIS or other Clanton schools to fund the program.

Councilman Sammy Wilson and Driver said the city also recently had some unexpected road expenses.

The City Council unanimously approved a motion by Councilman Awlahjaday Agee to table discussion and revisit the issue when more was known about the upcoming budget.