How MCS Builds Camaraderie with House Points

Maranatha Christian School's students earned 117 thousand House Points for positive behavior in 2021-2022.
By 
Kelly Rodriguez
 | 
September 6, 2022

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

quote icon
I am not getting in front of our kids and saying be kind to one another. But as they realize that their peers are humans too and it is beyond their friend group, you see those moments. That is what I love. That is why I love Houses.

With House Points, students get points for good behavior, and all the points add up in a House competition.

The results have been astounding. Not only has it taught kindness, but across the building and throughout those tough middle school years, House Points have helped Kelly and her team weave camaraderie into the fabric of the school.

4
Houses, 1 Family
117k
Points Given
350+
Prizes Bought

Getting Started with House Points

Kelly first heard of House Points from Harry Potter. As she set out to research them, she found the Ron Clark Academy, which has many great resources for schools looking to build this type of program.

One of the facets she wanted to avoid though was paper. Many educators know just how much work it is to design, print, laminate, and distribute paper bucks – and kids are prone to lose them anyway. In fact, one teacher said to Kelly:

“I just can’t pass out another piece of paper.”

That’s how Kelly found LiveSchool, which offers digital points tracking and a House Points system with built-in reporting.

Setting Up the Houses

In place of a magic sorting hat, the task fell to Kelly. She decided to create four houses with 56 students in each. Kelly intentionally made sure the houses were blended, meaning they had students from across grade levels in them.

“And I thought: How can I get a sixth grade to talk to an eighth-grader? How can I get an eighth-grader to mentor a sixth-grader? Houses were a huge building block for this. We don’t just have the sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade. They are all intermixed. They are all equal.”

The four houses are Borealis, Loma, Vanguard, and Odyssey. Each house has its own color, crest, and trait.

Yes, the houses create friendly competition. Yes, they build identity among their students. But Kelly always reminds the students, that they are four houses and one family.

About Maranatha Christian Schools

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • Enrollment: 230
  • Grades: 6th - 8th

Getting Started with House Points

Kelly first heard of House Points from Harry Potter. As she set out to research them, she found the Ron Clark Academy, which has many great resources for schools looking to build this type of program.

One of the facets she wanted to avoid though was paper. Many educators know just how much work it is to design, print, laminate, and distribute paper bucks – and kids are prone to lose them anyway. In fact, one teacher said to Kelly:

“I just can’t pass out another piece of paper.”

That’s how Kelly found LiveSchool, which offers digital points tracking and a House Points system with built-in reporting.

Setting Up the Houses

In place of a magic sorting hat, the task fell to Kelly. She decided to create four houses with 56 students in each. Kelly intentionally made sure the houses were blended, meaning they had students from across grade levels in them.

“And I thought: How can I get a sixth grade to talk to an eighth-grader? How can I get an eighth-grader to mentor a sixth-grader? Houses were a huge building block for this. We don’t just have the sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade. They are all intermixed. They are all equal.”

The four houses are Borealis, Loma, Vanguard, and Odyssey. Each house has its own color, crest, and trait.

Yes, the houses create friendly competition. Yes, they build identity among their students. But Kelly always reminds the students, that they are four houses and one family.

Everyone Gets Points!

Students at Maranatha receive House Points throughout the day for anything positive. This can include:

  • Good Character
  • School Spirit
  • Compassion
  • Outstanding Performance
  • Teamwork
  • Academic Excellence
  • Humility
  • Effort
  • Responsibility
  • House Competitions

Students can get points at any time, and this is key! Any staff member can award points – in the hallway, during drop off/recess, and at assemblies. That way the competition is always on – and students are always motivated!

While students can receive points individually, students can earn points together as teams.

  • In weekly Chapel, the first 10 minutes are dedicated to House Competitions, where Houses compete in get-to-know-you and team-building games.
  • Each month, students participate in spirit days, where Houses earn points for participation.
  • Each semester, Maranatha holds a House Points blitz which is a week packed with games and activities to showcase house spirit.

These events keep the House system fun, team-centered, and consistent!

And throughout it all. Maranatha has a TV installed in their main hallway showing the point totals for the houses like the image above. Kelly notes, “I’ll hear students say: ‘Oh my gosh Tommy you earned us points!’ and high-fiving. That’s an eighth-grader to a sixth-grader or sixth-graders to a seventh-grader.”

That’s what Kelly was looking for when she launched this initiative: those moments that they cheer each other on.

“It’s horizontal and vertical alignment of student kindness, student togetherness, and student growth.”

Spending Points

Students have all these points. Now, they need to use them! The majority of the Maranatha system is built on pride in your house and earning points for the glory of it.

But there are some opportunities to spend. For example, they have a student store that students use their LiveSchool bucks to enter. Once in it, they can claim a small prize like a snack or toy. Students can also save up their points to buy a house shirt. In a school with a uniform, this special shirt gives students a chance to dress down while repping their House.

The majority of the prizes, however, cost the school nothing. Every month, the winning house gets a prize together that’s something like free dress, a homework pass, extra recess, longer lunch, or house game time. Students love them all – and Maranatha doesn't have to spend a dime. Win, win!

These prizes also build camaraderie among students who get to play and engage with each other as a prize for their teamwork.

“We earned this.” Maranatha Students

Then, at the end of the year, there is the pennant party, which is a school barbeque with snacks, games, craft tables, and bounce houses. The House with the most points for the year gets early access, extra pizza, and an entire snack tent to themselves. Every student, regardless of House, gets to enjoy the party.

Better Together

House Points gives the Maranatha community countless opportunities for celebration and community-building. Students grow closer with their Houses, but the system also enables students to get to know all staff and staff to get to know all students.

Suddenly, students are actively seeking out different teachers and staff, and the non-instructional staff is now interacting with students regularly. So not only has it built camaraderie between students, the Houses have built camaraderie across the community. That camaraderie is built on good deeds, togetherness, and kindness.

We can quantify Maranatha’s usage of LiveSchool, the points they’ve awarded, and the LiveSchool points students have spent. But we simply cannot put a number on community, confidence, and authenticity.

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

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About the Event

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

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About the Event

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

About the Presenter

Kelly Rodriguez received her B.A. in Journalism from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. After working in journalism for several years, Kelly decided to return to the school that ministered to her throughout her education, Calvary Chapel. It is where she taught English Literature for twelve years while maintaining the role of ASB Advisor, Vice Principal of Staff and Curriculum. In June 2018, Kelly moved to San Diego and joined the MCS family where she served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for three years before becoming Junior High Principal. Kelly currently holds a California Teaching Credential and a Masters from Concordia University in Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Rodriguez has a passion for finding victory in Christ as we daily strive to be His disciples. She is always working towards building a community of believers who are proud to work together as we do our best in all that we were given!

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

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Learn more about the author, 
Kelly Rodriguez
 

“How are we teaching kindness to our students?”

A parent came into Kelly Rodriguez's office one day and asked that. Kelly, who is the Middle School Principal at Maranatha Christian Schools, first thought, “well of course we are.”

But as she reflected, she realized that it wasn’t being taught in a codified way besides certain lesson plans or in-the-moment interactions. Kelly set out to change this, which brought her to House Points.

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Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Sports Tickets
Grades 3-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe

All Event Ideas for Schools

All Free Reward Ideas for Schools

🎉
👑
🎁
House Induction
🎉
👑
🎁
Meet the Teacher
🎉
👑
🎁
Tech Time
🎉
👑
🎁
Lunch Concert
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
🎉
👑
🎁
Tutor
🎉
👑
🎁
Homework Pass
🎉
👑
🎁
Special Screening
🎉
👑
🎁
Seating Choice
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Reading Time
🎉
👑
🎁
School Spirit Day
🎉
👑
🎁
Camp Read Away

All Reward Ideas for High School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
“Let's Make A Difference Week"
Grades 9-12
Class/House
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Dance
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Uber by a Principal
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Art Contest
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Get-to-Know-You Bingo
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Board Game Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Seating Choice
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
School Spirit Day
Grades K-12
School
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
House Induction
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Glow Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Locker Choice
Grades 9-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Delivery
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Special Screening
Grades K-12
School
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Blood Drive
Grades 9-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Emcee the Announcements
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Snacks
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY

All Reward Ideas for Middle School Students

🎉
👑
🎁
Free Dress
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Graduation Celebration
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Meet the Teacher
Grades K-8
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Decades Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Talent Show. 🎤
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Holiday Delivery
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Assembly
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Snack Pack
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
School Supplies & Merch
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Classroom DJ
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Career Day
Grades 3-12
School
Event
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Meme Party
Grades 6-12
School
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Uber by a Principal
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Tech Time
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Student Reward & Incentive Ideas

💰
🎨
Locker Choice
Grades 9-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Silly Science Experiments
Grades K-5
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Class Jobs
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Drop Lowest Quiz
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Talk Time
Grades 6-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Teacher v Student Competition
Grades 6-12
School
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Class Book
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Snacks
Grades K-12
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Video Game Rewards
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Board Game Party
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Partner Work
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Picnic Lunch
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
💰
🎨
Virtual Field Trip
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Student Messenger
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Podcast
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
💰
🎨
Hat Pass
Grades 6-12
Student
Privilege
Free

All Virtual Reward Ideas for Schools

🎉
👑
🎁
Show & Tell
Grades K-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Donate $1
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Stickers
Grades K-5
Student
Tangible
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Podcast
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Field Trip
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Extra Computer Games
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Morning Meeting Leader
Grades 3-8
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Virtual Talent Show. 🎤
Grades 3-12
Class/House
Event
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Brain Break
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Teacher Q&A
Grades K-12
Class/House
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Digital Escape Rooms
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Privilege
Deluxe
🎉
👑
🎁
Certificate of Achievement
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Social Media Reporter
Grades 3-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Student Spotlight Board
Grades K-5
Student
Privilege
Low Cost/DIY
🎉
👑
🎁
Positive Note or Call Home
Grades K-12
Student
Privilege
Free
🎉
👑
🎁
Host a Virtual Party. 🎶
Grades 6-12
Class/House
Event
Free
See all Rewards

Want more ideas?

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Learn more about the author, 
Kelly Rodriguez
 

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