Last year, Kelly Miller Middle School in Washington, D.C. had one of the highest suspension rates of any middle school in their district. Since then, with the help of one energized LiveSchool Leader and her team of committed teachers and administrators, Kelly Miller has reduced their suspensions by 40% - and now boast one of D.C.’s lowest suspension rates in the district.
LiveSchool helped them along the way, but that kind of schoolwide transformation takes much more than an app. We caught up with Louise Lewis, the 7th-grade Assistant Principal who led the charge, to find out how the students, teachers and staff of Kelly Miller achieved their goal of becoming the “pride of the city.”
Before the app launched, teachers collaborated in small groups to discuss common behaviors that they wanted to encourage, and identify negative trends that they felt could be better managed. This allowed them to create a behavior rubric that worked for everyone and was tailored to the needs of their student body.
The convenience of an app made it easy for teachers to incorporate the point system into their routine. (And of course, they had Louise to cheer them on!)
Louise explains how Kelly Miller kept the momentum going: everyday the afternoon announcement includes a shout-out to the teacher who awarded the most LiveSchool points as well as the top student who earned the most points that day.
But she also likes to leverage the element of surprise.
Sometimes at random I shoutout someone on my team for issuing ‘x’ number of points at a given time and they earn a small gift.
By frequently celebrating successes, Louise encourages her teachers to stay engaged.
As for the students, swag from the school store and special events (“vacation for a day”) are popular incentives. Kelly Miller students always have a goal to work toward, whether it’s a skating trip or entry to the next dance.
Kelly Miller has a defined set of core values: being respectful, responsible, and prepared. LiveSchool makes it easy to recognize students who reflect those values every day. When a student goes into class with their homework finished, picks up litter in the hallway, or helps a classmate find their gym shoes, they have a chance to earn points.
Recognizing those little moments with tangible rewards reinforces Kelly Miller’s core values, and also shows students, as Louise notes, that
the school building is really a community that we all need to invest in.
For Kelly Miller, LiveSchool serves as more than a behavior tracking app: it allowed everyone to measure their progress one day at a time - and fortunately, they had an enthusiastic Louise to lead the way.
In addition to the dramatic decrease in suspension numbers, Louise also noticed a shift in morale.
The piece that is most exciting for us as a school is being able to see the improvement in the overall culture and climate in the building.
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Our LiveSchool leader for April is Cherri Byford, a School Counselor in Fort Smith, Arkansas!