Monday, October 2, 2023

Capturing Kids' Hearts: GISD's new program to strengthen student/teacher connections


Maintaining a positive student/teacher relationship is not always easy — especially with the student tragedies that recently befell our beloved district.

But the implementation of one program at Granbury ISD could help strengthen those connections while also creating a safe and welcoming environment for students.

The GISD school board unanimously approved the purchase of Capturing Kids’ Hearts professional development program during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a program that equips professionals in K-12 education to implement transformational processes focused on social-emotional wellbeing, relationship-driven campus culture, and student connectedness, according to the website.

“Staggering statistics from the CDC, the APA — American Psychological Association — and the Office of the Surgeon General show that recent National Youth Surveys have shown an alarming increase in the prevalence specifically of certain mental health challenges that our young people are facing,” said Stacie Brown, director of curriculum and instruction at the meeting. “All of the research points to the power of connectedness and fighting against those things.”

In reading the memo affiliated with the program, Brown added that Capturing Kids’ Hearts “trains teachers, staff, and administrators overarching skills to use in helping to develop self-management with our students, high performance classrooms, using team building skills and social contracts, techniques for dealing with conflict, negative behavior, and issues with disrespect."

When the program’s training is combined with a systemic approach, Brown explained, the researched-based process improves five big indicators of school performance — “fewer discipline referrals, improved attendance, higher student achievement, lower dropout rates, and higher teacher satisfaction.”

The total cost of the program was not revealed during the meeting, but it was disclosed that the district will be using carryover funds from federal funding — specifically Title II-A and Title IV-A — for the purchase.

"These carryover funds are past funds that were not spent that went back to the federal government,” Brown explained. “If we do not spend the funds specifically on what we said we were going to spend the funds on — which is only professional development specific to Safe and Healthy Students, which is Title IV — then all of the money goes back to the federal government.”

Granbury ISD used the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program in the past, Brown said, but only purchased certain products — “a la carte” as she called them.

"This specific purchase is not only overarching, but it allows for implementation support, so it allows for Capturing Kids’ Hearts to join with us and have a monthly call,” she said. “And we have a strategist that comes and plans with our teachers and continues to push success in the program. Those were things that we did not have access to before, and it was something that has made this specific contract much more appealing from an implementation perspective.”

Barbara Herrington, school board president, commented that the program is rather costly, but agrees that it’s in the best interest for the district’s staff and students.

"Secondary (schools) needs it most of all because my experience has been that secondary teachers teach subjects; elementary teach kids, and this helps secondary teach kids and develop that relationship,” she said.

Herrington added that with the latest tragedies, there wasn’t a better time for this board to look at a program that might strengthen the connections between the staff and the students — and potentially save a life.

“This is a lot of money, but the life of one kid is worth more than this,” she said. “And I can't help but believe that this is something that could stand in the gap for some of those youngsters who feel disconnected and feel there's no other way out, so I think this district has no better time than today to look at this and consider it.”


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