Students at Fairfax Elementary School are enjoying a new experience this year through participation in a program designed to instill academic and behavioral success while also creating a sense of family and community.
At the beginning of the current school year, the entire student body was randomly divided into four “Houses,” each one representing concepts such as Friendship, Dreams, Unselfishness and Courage. Students were given the opportunity to win points on a weekly basis for things like completed homework, improved grades, good character decisions, etc. These individual points go toward their “House” points, and throughout the year, houses that earn or exceed their goal points receive accolades and awards from teachers and administration.
Each “House” is assigned a specific color and name, with a corresponding Greek name of the same meaning. For example, red is Friendship/Amistad; blue is Dream/Reveur; green is Selflessness/Altruismo; and yellow is Courage/Isibindi. A “Fairfax crest” was created incorporating the four characteristics into a t-shirt design, and donations from parents and generous local sponsors insured that every child received a shirt.
On designated occasions, all students, teachers and support personnel proudly wear their colored shirts showing which “House” they belong to, and giant scoreboards displayed in the school’s lobby show a running weekly total of points earned by each house.
“At the end of every quarter, the team with the most points receives special recognition,” said fourth-grade teacher and program facilitator Lauren Dabbs. “The friendly competition among students gives them an incentive to fulfill the necessary requirements for obtaining points, and provides them a sense of pride with each accomplishment.”
The “House System” is the brainchild of the Ron Clark Academy, a highly acclaimed, nonprofit middle school in Southeast Atlanta. The Academy has received both national and international acclaim for its success in educating students with academic rigor, passion and creatively balanced by a strict code of discipline.