MI ‘success coach’ works with school, parents, community to reduce absenteeism

School “success coach” Scott Snyder is working to improve school attendance among students at Cascades Elementary School in Jackson, Michigan, reports media website MLive.

“We try to provide anything (parents) need to get their children to school,” he told MLive, as he played rock-paper-scissors with students streaming into the building on a recent morning. “We greet the kids every morning enthusiastically.”

Snyder is among numerous success coaches deployed to schools across Michigan by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. A key goal is to reduce student absenteeism.

According to MLive, the Pathways to Potential Program started in the Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, and Saginaw school districts in the 2012–13 school year and has since spread to other schools in the state.

Success coaches focus on removing barriers that keep kids from school, through everything from securing clothes and personal items to connecting parents with resources in the community. A Pathways statement notes that “students who don’t have these basic needs met often do not go to school.”

The program helped cut chronic absenteeism in Jackson County schools by 20 percent during the 2016–17 school year. Just six Michigan counties met that target, MLive reports.

MDHHS spokesman Bob Wheaton told MLive that Pathways is unique in that it doesn’t require participants to come to a government building to receive assistance, and said student attendance is one of five issues the program works to address, the others being education, health, safety, and self-sufficiency.

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Perhaps the most critical element of this effort is the connection between the success coach, the school’s officials, the parents, and the community in helping the child succeed. Daily school attendance requires—and develops—responsibility, dependability, and grit. These qualities are moral in nature, and while they ultimately reside in each individual student and become each student’s concern, they are more likely to flourish when they are visibly supported and reinforced by the actions and the words of the various adults in the students’ lives. As James Davison Hunter put it in his monograph The Tragedy of Moral Education in America:

Moral education can work where the community, and schools and other institutions within it, share a moral culture that is integrated and mutually reinforcing; where the social networks of adult authority are strong, unified, and consistent in articulating moral ideas and their attending virtues; and where adults maintain a “careful watchfulness” over all aspects of a young person’s maturation.

The habit of attending school regularly is an area where a student’s virtue—in this case, self-discipline—is directly and clearly connected to their academic achievement. The website Understood.org has discussed the impact chronic absenteeism can have on a child’s academic progress, particularly with young students (like those at Cascades Elementary School). “Missing school in the early grades can have a snowball effect,” notes writer Kate Kelly on the website. “It sets kids up to fall behind in the fundamental reading skills they need in order to move on to more complicated work.”

Parents are key to this process. Kelly observes that

Many parents may not realize how often their child is absent from school. A missed day here and here may not seem significent compared to missing several days in a row. But missing just two days per month can add up to a child being considered chronically absent.

This, she adds, can have direct academic impact:

Chronic absences keep kids from getting the consistent instruction they need to build on basic skills. For kids with learning and attention issues, there’s something else to consider: Frequent absences not only mean less instruction, but also missed opportunities for intervention, re-teaching and enrichment.

Social-emotional learning and achievement at Valor

Valor Collegiate Academies in Tennessee is crediting a sharp focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) for students’ astonishing academic success, which propelled its Tennessee schools to the top 1 percent of all middle schools in the state in its first year.

The success at Valor not only sheds light on the value of social-emotional learning, but also provides an opportunity to connect those lessons with broader discussions about good character and morals.

The Charter School Growth Fund, which invested $1.5 million for Valor’s first two schools launched in 2013, featured the schools in a recent “CSGF Portfolio Spotlight” on the organization’s website.

Todd Dickson, CEO of Valor Collegiate Academies, explained that the concept for the charter school was inspired by his work at a high-performing charter school in California that focused heavily on academics, and his twin brother Daren’s time helping children in social services with social and emotional skills.

“Students at Valor spend more time on their social and emotional growth than most traditional students. We first work on self-awareness and self-management to help them develop a strong sense of who they are. Then, we work on social awareness and social management to help them develop positive relationships with others. We believe that doing both things well helps develop healthy kids and communities,” Dickson said.

“We also hear from students that they feel safe here and that they have trusting relationships with peers and adults in the building. This has been beneficial in an academic setting; scholars are more willing to take academic risks. They listen to other people’s opinions and accept a diversity of perspectives.”

Valor schools use “The Valor Compass” to guide student growth and help them focus on four primary objectives: Sharp Minds, Noble Purpose, Big Hearts, and Aligned Actions.

“Mentor time, Expeditions, and academic courses all incorporate explicit and experiential experiences to help scholars develop sharp minds, big hearts, noble purpose, and aligned actions,” according to the Valor website. “Valor scholars develop character strengths such as kindness, determination, curiosity, gratitude, and integrity within a supportive community.”

Ryan Olson, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Culture at the University of Virginia, points out in “Character Education” that an SEL researcher argued that “the orientation of social-emotional learning toward action and skill” in SEL programs can complement the “concern for volition and intention often found in character and moral education programs.”

Adding curriculum resources on why students should do and be good—reasons outside oneself and for the benefit of others and a community—improves the stickiness of character formation, and getting students to go deeper by working on developing good sense when there is conflict between the social and emotional skills they’re learning, is an excellent next step, Olson argues.

The UK’s Jubilee Centre offers a worksheet to assist teachers to help students think about the kind of person and type of life they want to pursue.

Landmark Harvard study reveals six things that contribute to long, healthy lives

A Harvard Medical School study that tracked 800 people through their entire lives recently revealed six things that made the biggest impact on their happiness, health and longevity.

The study involves several types of participants, from Harvard graduates born around 1920 to blue collar, inner city adults and intellectually gifted women specifically. And while many of the findings seem like common sense, others were less obvious, Business Insider reports.

Smoking and excessive alcohol use showed to have the biggest impact on health, while exercise and and weight management played key roles in longevity and happiness. Heavy smokers generally died sooner than others, while those with a healthy weight who enjoyed regular exercise lived longer with a better quality of life.

Years of education also made a difference. The study found “the physical health of the 70-year-old inner city man was as poor as that of the Harvard men at 80. But remarkably, the health of the college-educated inner city men at 70 was as good as that of the Harvard men at 70,” according to “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Study of Adult Development,” a book by George Vaillant, the lead author of the study for over three decades.

“This was in spite of the fact that their childhood social class, their tested IQ, their income, and the prestige of their colleges and jobs were markedly inferior to those of the Harvard men. Parity of education alone was enough to produce parity in physical health,” Vaillant wrote.

He found that having a happy childhood is important, as well.

“For both inner city men and the Harvard men the best predictor of a high income was not their parents’ social class but whether their mother had made them feel loved,” according to Vaillant. “Perhaps the best summary statement is, What goes right in childhood predicts the future far better than what goes wrong.”

Relationships, and the emotional intelligence to deal with others, showed to be other big predictors of happiness later in life.

“The lives of all three cohorts repeatedly demonstrated that it was social aptitude — sometimes called emotional intelligence — not intellectual brilliance or parental social class that leads to a well-adapted old age,” Vaillant wrote.

The final two elements predicting a long and happy life involve coping skills, and generativity.

Those in the study who used “maladaptive coping” – blaming others, being passive-aggressive, living in denial or fantasy – did not fare as well as those who used “mature methods” like altruism, sublimation, suppression and humor, Business Insider reports.

Generativity – giving back through service as a consultant, mentor, coach or other youth leader – also benefitted participants later in life.

“In all three study cohorts mastery of Generativity tripled the chances that the decade of the 70s would for these men and women be a time of joy and not of despair,” Vaillant wrote.

He summarized the overarching message from the study – the longest prospective study of its kind in the world – with a single sentence: “Whether we live to a vigorous old age lies not so much in our stars or our genes as in ourselves.”

The findings underscore the notion that personal character is perhaps the most significant determining factor for quality and longevity on earth, a realization that some schools are taking to heart.

Daniel Scoggin explained to CultureFeed why character development is critical to the Great Hearts charter school network he founded in Arizona and Texas:

As the ancient Athenian statesman Pericles described the virtues of a free democracy and its citizens as, “. . . knowing the secret of happiness to be freedom, and the secret of freedom a brave heart.”

In the spirit of Pericles we named our public charter organization Great Hearts. It is a reminder to us of our heritage of freedom. But it also is a reminder to us of what we want our students to have, and who we want our students to be, as we inspire our students to fulfill their calling and prepare for the adventure ahead.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham offers a teacher handbook to help educators develop students’ character and improve their outlook on life. The handbook provides activities that encourage youngsters to “cultivate a sense of appreciation for the network of people from whom they receive benefits,” and “to reflect on the meaning of gratitude” outlined in an associated workbook.

Research shows students’ sense of belonging in schools is critical

A recent report by the Australian Council for Educational Research highlights what many educators have observed themselves: certain students lack a sense of belonging, and it impacts their success in school.

According to ACER:

While the majority of Australian students feel a sense of belonging at school, there is a solid core of students who do not feel this way – roughly one in five, or five students in the average classroom.

Researchers examined the response of 15-year-olds to questions regarding their sense of belonging in school administered through the Programme for International Student Assessment, which collected data on a total of 36 countries, including the United States.

The education site The Conversation points to research that shows students’ sense of belonging at school can have a profound impact on their success in academics and life. Those that feel less like they belong are more likely to misbehave, use drugs or alcohol, act violently, or drop out of school, while those who feel a strong sense of belonging are typically more motivated, engaged, and eager to participate in school and their communities.

“Teachers play an important role in nurturing students’ sense of belonging. If a student considers their teacher to be caring and accepting, they’re more likely to adopt the academic and social values of their teacher,” The Conversation reports. “This can influence how students feel about school work and how much (or how little) they value it.”

The site offers a video from the Australian Psychological Society that explains “Mental health benefits when kids feel they belong at school,” and a list of teaching practices that are key to fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom.

The recommendations include developing high-quality teacher-student relationships, creating a supporting and caring learning environment, offering emotional support, sensitivity to student emotions and needs, offering respect and fair treatment and positive classroom management practices.

“Other significant approaches include giving students a voice, working with community partners to meet students’ needs, student participation in extra-curricular activities, and developing a culture of high standards and behaviours across the whole school,” The Conversation reports.

Education researcher Richard Fournier highlighted how a sense of belonging can strengthen the moral culture of a school in “The Content of Their Character,” a publication of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture summarizing character development in a variety of schools.

“One common goal among the schools’ administrators, often acknowledged by teachers, was to create a sense of belonging among students and staff,” Fournier observed. “This sense of belonging built trust, which in turn gave teachers and administrators more clout when pointing students in the right directions.”

Educators can develop a better understanding of how the world’s 15-year-olds view themselves and their place in school from data collected by the Students’ Well-Being survey, PISA 2015.

The survey “explores a comprehensive set of well-being indicators for adolescents that covers both negative outcomes (e.g. anxiety, low performance) and the positive impulses that promote healthy development (e.g. interest, engagement, motivation to achieve).”

Back-to-school rally draws community together for backpack give-away, lessons on school safety

Alachua County Public Schools’ annual backpack give-away has a new theme this year: “See Something, Say Something, Do Something.”

The Florida school district’s 19th annual Stop the Violence/Back to School Rally at Santa Fe College centered on a new program for area schools this year that officials hope will help students respond to emergency situations, and active school shooters, in particular, The Gainesville Sun reports.

The event – sponsored by People Against Violence Enterprises, Alachua County Public Schools, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, as well as other area businesses and community groups – introduced students to the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evade) method to keep them safe, with the promise of additional training for students and staff during the first week of school.

“We are going to teach your kids to fight back as a last resort,” Andrew Davis, a school resource deputy with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office told those who attended.

Officials doled out 2,500 backpacks filled with school supplies, and shared information about school calendars, supply lists, free- and reduced-price lunches, and after-school opportunities. But Gainesville Police Department Chief Tony Jones said a major goal was to compel students to do the right thing, and inform police if they’re aware of threats to their school or classmates.

“I want you to be safe this school year,” he said. “If you see something, say something.”

“This lets us set the stage for stopping violence in schools,” school board chairman Gunnar Paulson told the news site. “What could be more appropriate than talking about this right now?”

Parents who attended seemed to agree, with some recalling how the event made an impact on them as youngsters in the school system.

“I’m here because it’s important to teach our children about how to stop the violence in our schools and neighborhoods,” said 29-year-old Julianne Williams, whose two children will attend Lawton Chiles Elementary School in 2018. “I probably came here every year when I was in school to get backpacks, and now I’m bringing my children.”

The August rally drew many students and parents, as well as a wide variety of local leaders, from elected officials or those running for office to school leaders, parent-teacher groups, school vendors and others.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, pointed to the importance of school practices and connections to the community in “The Content of Their Character,” an analysis of character education in a variety of different schools.

“How a school is organized, the course structure and classroom practices, the relationship between school and outside civic institutions – all these matter in the moral and civic formation of the child,” he wrote.

The ALICE Training Institute website offers additional details on the methods this organizations uses in K-12 schools to prepare students and staff for the worst.

“Families and communities expect schools to keep their children safe from all threats including human-caused emergencies such as crimes of violence,” according to the site. “In collaboration with local government and community stakeholders, schools can take steps to plan and prepare to mitigate these threats. Every school Emergency Operating Procedure should include courses of action that will describe how students and staff can most effectively respond to an active shooter situation to minimize the loss of life, and teach and train on these practices.”


Summer camps force students to put down devices and embrace nature

Summer camps are finding creative ways to address “nature deficit disorder” among youth through a greater range of activities and specialty camps designed to help them unplug from technology and immerse themselves in nature.

Nearly half of the estimated 14 million American kids going to summer camp this year will attend Christian-focused programs, “from camps run by one or two staff people for a few dozen campers, to camps with 100-plus staffers that serve more than a thousand guests at a time,” Gregg Hunter, resident of the Christian Camp Conference Association, told Religion News.

Christan Camp Conference Association’s 860 camps will host the bulk of Christian students – an estimated 5.5 million in 2018 – at places like the Miracle Ranch horsemanship camp in Washington State, Redwood Canopy Tour zip line adventures in California, a robotics themed Character Camp targeted toward African American campers in Texas, and an all-boys Deerfoot camp that teaches outdoor skills and canoe-building in New York’s Adirondacks.

“Christian camping gives kids the opportunity to get way, clear their heads, unplug from tech and hear a message of God’s love for them,” Hunter said, adding that CCCA camps require youngsters to drop off their smartphones at registration.

“Counselors are equipped to deal with withdrawal symptoms,” he said. “But after the first day or two or three, kids are actually looking at each other and talking to each other instead of texting.”

And while some camps are expecting slightly higher numbers in 2018 than previous years, others have struggled to fill camps as youth attendance at church has declined in recent decades. With fewer students in Sunday school, Melinda Trotti said the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ has diversified programs at its Pilgrim Lodge on Cobbosseecontee Lake to keep it in operation.

“In addition to hosting camps for families, grandparents and their grandchildren, and a camp for those 55 and over called Vintage Ventures, they have also launched Camp Pride for high school students who are gay, lesbian, transgender or transitioning,” according to Religion News.

“They come here and are not just welcomed and understood, but are affirmed,” Trotti, Pilgrim Lodge’s interim director, told the news site. “People need places where we sing together, eat together, serve food to each other and participate in worship together, especially at a time when we see increasing social media use and greater loneliness, anxiety and depression among young people.”

Research from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture shows many parents – whether they’re religious or not – are struggling controlling technology use at home, and they’re concerned about the negative influences it’s having on their kids.

“Many parents feel their attempts to control the home environment and to keep external influences at bay are nearly futile in the face of new communication and entertainment technologies,” according to the Institute’s “Culture of American Families” report.

Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning takes a deeper look at “Technology and Student Distraction” by examining the advantages and disadvantages laptops, mobile devices and other electronics pose for students and teachers.


Individualized learning, goal setting helps DC students become independent learners

Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science Principal Kathryn Procope acknowledges the personalized learning system put in place at that Washington D.C. school this year is “not a silver bullet,” but it’s helping students set goals and develop self-discipline to become independent learners.

The school is in its first year using a new Summit Learning platform that encourages students to set daily goals and track their progress through online lessons, with constant feedback and guidance from teachers in the classroom. The individualized learning approach “is not a new concept,” Procope said, but the new Summit program developed by Facebook engineers is taking it to another level, EdSurge reports.

Summit Public Schools – a charter school chain operating in Washington and northern California – developed the software for its schools in partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative over the last several years, and it’s now used by about 56,000 students in 40 states and 330 campuses, including Howard and the Truesdell Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

“What Summit has done is take a concept that already existed and put a framework around it so that it assists every student,” Procope said.

Dianne Tavenner, founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools, contends the Summit system is primarily focused on changing school culture to foster independent learning, with online lessons to support that goal.

“This is really about a whole belief, a way of educating, thinking and learning,” Tavenner said. “This (platform) is just a tool.”

The program centers on several core tenets schools must adopt to implement the approach successfully, including 1:1 mentorship, project-based learning activities in all curricula, a change from A through F grades to “a competency-based system where students only progress when they demonstrate mastery of a topic or subject,” and ongoing professional development for staff, EdSurge reports.

Summit requires students to select daily goals from a list provided by teachers, and to analyze feedback on assignments using a grading rubric. Summit collects data on each student’s progress, which is relayed to students and teachers through a data dashboard and allows students to work at their own pace.

Educators also practice “aggressive monitoring” to keep students focused.

“Sixth-grade students can barely put their pants on. They lose their stuff all the time,” Procope said. “It takes a lot to help them start setting their own goals. It’s a lot of repetitive processes.”

While the impact of the new approach at Howard is unclear, results are promising at Truesdell, where the 364 mostly low-income students in grades 3 to 8 have used the program since 2015.

“The school has made gains over the years, not big leaps and bounds, but nice, consistent gains,” principal MaryAnn Stinson said. “Last year we had the highest [district] growth in English Language Arts for a Title 1 school.”

The personal education paradigm is an increasingly “thick” educational model.

James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson define thickness in The Content of Their Character, a summary of character education programs in a variety of schools.

Hunter and Olson write “‘thick’ moral reasoning and discourse is not abstract, but concrete; bounded by the history, tradition, and the practices of lived experience in particular communities.”

Researchers who conducting field research for the book found that “the thicker the moral culture of the school, the more coherent it was and the more cohesive an environment it provided for the young.”

Summit Learning offers the video “Habits of Success at Summit” for those interested in more details on how the personalized approach inspires students to take control of their own learning.

Student’s senior project connects personal story of hope with others struggling to overcome

Journey Smith’s Grade 12 project at British Columbia Canada’s Whistler Waldorf School is making a big impact, both on those involved in “Hope The Documentary,” and the 18-year-old herself.

Smith told Canada’s Pique News Magazine what started as a year-long thesis on the role of hope evolved into something much more, largely because her own story of overcoming adversity connected with others she knows who have struggled in life.

“In my 18 years of life, I have faced a lot of adversity. I was actually diagnosed with a condition called hydrocephalus, which is essentially fluid on the brain. I suffered a stroke at birth,” Smith said, adding that she’s underwent numerous surgeries related to the condition in the years since.

“This project was super important to find other people who have faced different types of adversity and how, through their journey, they’d overcome it,” she said.

Smith teamed with family friend and commercial videographer Andi Wardrop, who credited Smith’s intimate connection with those she interviewed for bringing the film to life.

“Journey’s story, first of all; and probably most of all, is why people get so attached to this film. The few times that (I) had met Journey, it seemed like she didn’t have a disability, which is interesting now that I know her so well,” Wardrop said. “Watching her start to give herself permission to be exactly who she is through talking to these other people, as soon as we started the film I knew it was going to be extremely powerful. It was definitely Journey’s story that I got attached to.”

“Hope The Documentary” features a local photographer who overcame breast cancer, a man who launched a mountain-bike charity following the death of his young son to cancer, a widower grieving through the unexpected death of her husband, and Smith’s personal neurosurgeon, who has treated the student since she was a toddler, according to the news site.

The focus on hope also aligns with the values and mission of Whistler Waldorf School.

“At Whistler Waldorf School, students learn from an early age to engage in their own learning process. The imaginative play and grace of the early years evolves into an experience of meeting the beauty and complexity of the world with sensitivity and hope,” according to the school’s website. “This foundation leads to a rich academic experience that supports young men and women in realizing their full potential as students, as people, as members of the global community.”

Scholars at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia point out that schools play an important role in the “moral ecology” of a community, which strongly influences students’ character.

“When social institutions – whether the family, peer relationships, youth organizations, the internet, religious congregations, entertainment, or popular culture – cluster together, they form a larger ecosystem of powerful cultural influences,” editors James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson wrote in “The Content of Their Character,” a summary of character development practices in a wide variety of U.S. schools.

The Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues offers resources for educators working to influence positively the moral ecology of their communities and build character in students.

The report “Flourishing From the Margins,” for example, analyzes findings from data collected on 3,250 young people in a variety of educational settings, and offers teaching tools focused on character that educators can use to help struggling students to thrive.


OH schools host ‘Veteran Appreciation Game’ to honor military servicemen and women

Two Ohio communities of Miamisburg and Bellbrook came together this month to honor military veterans with a Veteran Appreciation Game between high school baseball teams.

Some of the finest schools in terms of advancing moral character are found in rural public schools. Miamisburg and Bellhook have a population of 20,000 and 11,000 respectively. Here in the rural Midwest, researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found three spheres of moral obligation were common: immigration, religious responsibility, and military service. Here military service is appreciated. It’s a “clear expectation that people respect and honor those serving, those who had served, and those students thinking about joining.”

“It’s just a way for us to honor people what don’t normally get enough credit,” Miamisburg head coach Steve Kurtz told Dayton Daily News.

The April 21st outing kicked off at Miamisburg High School with players on both teams greeting veterans with a firm handshake, and a 21-gun salute. The opening ceremony also included taps, the national anthem, and a team of professional skydivers, who brought in the ball for the first pitch.

Gold star father Paul Zanowick, whose son Marine Cpl. Paul “Ricky” Zanowick II was killed in Afghanistan, did the honors.

“Not everywhere in the country is there so much care and concern for the military, but it is here,” Zanowick said.

His wife, Nanette, was also moved by the community support.

“I’m very touched and very proud of this community and what we do for veterans and they honored our son today to make it extra special,” she said.

Organizers sold commemorative t-shirts at the game and donated the profits to the Wounded Warrior Project, a Florida based nonprofit that works to help veterans who’ve served since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nearly a half-million veterans suffer from physical injuries from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including as many as 400,000 that suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“With the support of our community of donors and team members, we give a voice to those needs and empower our warriors to begin the journey of recovery,” according to the project’s website.

Kurtz told the Daily News he’s proud of his community’s support for veterans, and it was obvious at the recent game that it has a significant impact.

“It’s good to see that they smile and they know that we do care and are extremely grateful for what they’ve done for us,” he said.

Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students can find information and strategies at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre. In The Jubilee Centre’s own words, the following illustrates how the centre views its work.  “The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing.  The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and society.”

MT teens learn real life lessons through student-run business

Sidney Fox, coach for the Little Braves basketball team, asked local high schoolers to design and print team shirts with a logo created by his father, but he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“They were able to bring it to life,” Fox told KTVQ. “I was kind of expecting something like a beginner. But when I first seen this, I was amazed. It looked professionally done, like I ordered it from an online company. I was really surprised.”

In reality, Fox did order the shirts from a professional company: Braves Ink.

The business is almost entirely run by students at St. Labre High School, a Roman Catholic school that serves students from Montana’s Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Instructor Robyn Lei started the program to help students take ownership of their work in a real-world environment, a situation that’s offers practical lessons about business, character, responsibility and community pride.

The student business started small, but initial sales, training from a local printing company, and a grant from Congressman Greg Gianforte helped Braves Ink to upgrade equipment and expand. St. Labre teens design and print shirts for the school’s athletic teams, memorials for lost loved ones, and others, sometimes on short deadlines.

Students learn best from hands on experience. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found that when the “moral and missional ethos of a school was reinforced through a range of practices, or routinized actions—some formal, some informal—all oriented toward giving tangible expression of the school’s values and believes,” the moral endowments of the school are strengthened.

Senior Bree Deputee handles the finances, while senior Jayson Fisher focuses on technology and others work the presses. Students sometimes put in long hours, and are rewarded with pizza or other treats when they hit big deadlines. At the end of the year, Braves Ink profits are paid out to students in the form of college scholarships, KTVQ reports.

“We work hands-on with stuff instead of sitting at a desk,” Fisher said. “We learn things that are useful for business by actually doing it, learning through trial and error.”

“Some days we have a deadline, like a strict deadline and I have to help other people,” he said. “It’s hard work, but I like doing that.”

Lei told KTVQ he’s also learned a lot from students who “work so hard and really put their hearts into it,” adding that they’re eager to build on their progress.

“It’s something I would wanna do when I get older, run my own business,” student Camron Spotted Elk told the news site. “I can design these T-shirts and sell them at powwows.”

Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students can find information and strategies at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre. In The Jubilee Centre’s own words, the following illustrates how the centre views it work.  “The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing.  The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and society.”