AES set to soar with innovative house system

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Excitement is brewing at Atlanta Elementary School as it gears up to embark on an innovative educational journey for the upcoming school year, thanks to a grant from the Atlanta Education Foundation (AEF).

AES will be implementing the Ron Clark Academy House System, a transformative initiative that promises to bring positive changes to the school community.

Last July, AEF provided a grant to send a group of educators from AES to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. The team, consisting of Kara Baca, Brittany Hall, Dena McCord, Loree Saffel and Candace Whitehead, was impressed by the Academy’s atmosphere.

“Despite the castle-like appearance, the flying dragon, the themed rooms and the big slide, the most impressive element of the Ron Clark Academy was the sense of community and respect displayed campus-wide,” Whitehead said. “Those are qualities we want others to witness at our school and among our educators and scholars.”

Over the past year, the team has worked diligently to develop plans for implementing the house system, which will officially begin with the 2023-2024 school year.

“We were all impressed with the amount of student engagement, the character building, the sense of community and the sense of family,” said McCord, AES principal. “Everything there just made us think, ‘How would this look at Atlanta Elementary School, and how can we make it work with our kids?’”

Under this system, students will be placed into one of eight houses, each with a unique identity and set of values. Throughout the year, they will participate in team-building activities and competitions, earning points for their house along the way.

“Students can expect a lot of excitement. We’ll have monthly house meetings. There’ll be contests, and there’ll be cause for celebrations,” McCord said. “But the biggest thing is that even though we are eight houses, we’re one family.”

In a move that further emphasizes the sense of community, all staff members will be sorted into houses, acting as mentors who closely monitor the academic progress and emotional well-being of the students within their respective houses.

“I am excited to see our students and staff bond across grade levels, encourage one another, and build important character traits along the way,” Baca said. “I think the house system is going to create a culture of family campus-wide.”

Saffel said that the RCA system will complement the environment that’s already been created at AES

“At AES, our teachers strive to create an atmosphere of love and belonging, the perfect pair for a successful classroom,” Saffel said. “We believe that implementing RCA strategies will further impact our continuing efforts to have a sense of security in a loving and caring learning environment.”

Overall, the house system was designed with the goal of building character, empowering academic excellence, fostering school spirit, enhancing relationships and promoting a culture of belonging.

“Achieving our goal doesn’t require million-dollar sponsorships or flying dragons; we simply need enthusiastic educators and scholars who work hard, dream big, and get gritty. Luckily, AES already has both,” Whitehead said. “Implementing the house system is only going to elevate what we have already started cultivating at AES, and I am so excited to see our eight houses become one family this year.”