Today, I had the unique opportunity and privilege to watch a screening of Dan Habib’s fabulous film, “Who Cares About Kelsey” at the Syracuse University Summer Leadership Institute. This film follows Kelsey as a high school student who is diagnosed as ADHD and trying to graduate high school. The high school that Kelsey attends has the highest dropout rate in New Hampshire. A new team comes in the next year and implements Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and the team creates a process called RENEW and other supports to help improve the culture and the dropout rate in the school. (It’s a MUST SEE for all, so look for it on your local PBS station this fall!)
This film was very emotional for me. It also redefined why I do what I do as a building principal. It is not about test scores, that’s for sure. Yes, we just received our preliminary scores in New York State and they will be released tomorrow. A sobering reality that I haven’t seen anything like happen before in my 15 years of principalship. But, what was reassuring to me that came to mind, again and again, while watching this film, is that the social and emotional curriculum is JUST as important as the academic curriculum. They go hand-in-hand. And, that we as adults have to believe in our students that they CAN, not that they CAN’T.
At the end of the film, we were treated by a Q and A by the star of the film, Kelsey Carroll. One of the questions asked was what can we as educators do back in our schools. Kelsey stated that the biggest thing we can do is to have caring adults in our schools, someone who kids can go to so that they can be listened to, have an open door and have the belief that they can do it, no matter what. Yes, we have the academic curriculum to get through, but if the social and emtional curriculum is not in place, forget about the academics.
So, check out the links I provided, watch for the launch of the film on PBS, and think about what your school culture is like. Is the social and emtional curriculum in place and if not, how will you change it so that it is just as important as the academic curriclum.
Let me know what you think. Enjoy!
(Another great approach that is compatable to PBIS is Responsive Classroom. Our school is in it’s 3rd year using this approach and we will continue and tweak what is best for kids. Great results because it is about the people – the staff.)