What are Houses? Houses are small groups that meet twice a month for 45 minutes. Once per month we meet in Houses where every staff member in the building has a House which comprises one staff member and twelve students-three from each grade level. We use the word House to resemble a smaller group or “family” that when combined makes up a larger community. The idea behind Houses is to form bonds between students and staff members from each grade level since the students will stay with the same House throughout their entire time at West. This gives them a consistent person to build that trusted adult relationship, and fosters a comfortable environment to come back to each year.
What do we do during Houses? We meet in these small groups once per month and conduct lessons and activities around our Core Values of Perseverance, Integrity, and Empathy. We work to help students build inter-grade level relationships to reduce bullying, help kids connect with another trusted adult in the building, and build social skills and cooperation through team building activities.
What are the benefits of Houses? The mixed grade levels in each House allows students to create “brotherhood/sisterhood” bonds with each other and connect to another trusted adult in the building. These bonds also help students feel more connected to the school. Research shows these practices help drastically reduce bullying events, feelings of disconnectedness, and negative perceptions of schooling. In our own internal data, we have already seen drastic reductions in discipline events and suspensions over the years we have been doing these activities.
What are Communities? The second House meeting of the month occurs with larger groups that we call Communities. We felt that students needed to see themselves connected beyond their House, so we organized the Houses into six larger Communities. There are 7 or 8 houses in each Community; each Community is named after one of our Core Values of Perseverance, Integrity, and Empathy in a different language from around the world. Through these Communities students can see themselves connected to a larger group of people and work together for the betterment of others. Hopefully, this helps them build a sense of pride, connectedness, and comradery in our school. Students have participated in Community activities that involved community service projects, friendly competitions, team building events, and more. This year our Community emphasis will be on service learning.
Our mission in Wright City is “Dedicated to our students’ success”, that means both academically and in the development of their character as citizens of our community. We feel these activities align directly with our mission and provide students an exemplary elementary school experience.
West Elementary's Houses have been distinguished as a National Promising Practice by Character.org!