At Jefferson Elementary, there is no doubt that every adult in the building believes that every single child is capable of success. Teachers make sure their students know they are believed in, boldly proclaiming it as part of the Treasure Hunter’s Pledge – a message that teachers share with their students each morning. The Pledge is just one component of Kids at Hope, a research-based program designed to transform school cultures into an environment firmly committed to the belief that all children are capable of success.
The Kids at Hope model is based on four research conclusions:
- It’s not risk that prevents kids from success, it is the absence of HOPE.
- We who work with and support other people’s kids do not control most of the risk or trauma children experience, but we do control much of the HOPE.
- HOPE is taught and learned.
- It is not programs or curriculum that have the greatest impact on children and youth, it is adult relationships.
In spring of 2019, several representatives from Jefferson Elementary attended a conference introducing the Kids at Hope model, learning about the science behind the program. They brought back a passion for the Kids at Hope ideals and practices, and a language shift: the phrase “Kids at risk” was replaced with “Kids at HOPE”. Jefferson teachers Sonia Bringhurst and Diane Hathaway shared their excitement with the entire Jefferson team and were met with enthusiasm – staff unanimously decided to adopt the Kids at Hope mindset and practices.
In 2019-2020, in the first year of Kids at Hope implementation, Jefferson students have learned the Kids at Hope pledge and recite it each morning, starting the day off with a mantra of self-confidence and belief in themselves. Their pledge is met with the Treasure Hunter’s Pledge – a pledge recited by teachers to their students each morning, ensuring that each child hears at least once a day that an adult in their life believes they are capable of success! Many days, students hear this pledge from other adults in their lives – each employee in the building shares in this belief and recitation. Principal Jim Bruce starts his day in a different classroom each morning, joining the tradition and making his own personal commitment to believing in each and every child.
Once a month, an assembly is held at Jefferson to celebrate students! To kick off the assembly, students recite the Kids at Hope Pledge, and then all Jefferson staff join together as a team to recite the Treasure Hunter’s Pledge in front of the student body. It’s a powerful moment for students and staff alike. After this, students celebrate the students of the month. Classrooms nominate two classmates each month that exemplify the virtue of the month – a celebration of the values and qualities of Kids at Hope. The January assembly celebrated “Cooperation” and recognized students that are modeling cooperation well!
Staff at Jefferson are thrilled with the seeds being planted in students this year and look forward to continuing to slowly implement other tenets of the Kids at Hope program in the future!