How One School Is Sustaining A Culture Of Engagement And Leadership

How One School Is Sustaining A Culture Of Engagement And Leadership

Seeing students dancing on tables is a dream come true for Kevin Wheat, Principal of Allen Jay Preparatory Academy in High Point, North Carolina. Chants, clapping and dancing may seem at odds with the hushed school halls recalled by many, but it’s just one of the ways that Wheat and his team have been thinking about learning a little differently at AJ Prep.

At AJ Prep, student participation at the combined levels of body and mind is seen as crucial to academic success and student wellbeing. Crucially, a holistic framework for teaching has helped the school maintain a culture of engagement, even as the Covid-19 pandemic has constrained in-person instruction.

Student engagement has become one of the year’s most important education issues as millions of the nation’s PK-12 students have faced a partial or complete transition to remote learning. For education researchers and administrators, however, engagement has been top of mind for years. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 88% of superintendents see student engagement as an important measure of school effectiveness.

The promise of AJ Prep’s unique brand of engagement, backed by encouraging student test results, helped put the school in the top 5% for growth in the state. Wheat emphasizes that AJ Prep uses a combination of methods to engage its students, who teachers and staff refer to as scholars. Wheat says “music, movement, cheers, and chants as a way to engage scholars,” drawing them into learning. Wheat adds that the combining body and mind in the learning process engages both the right and the left brain, enhancing focus and retention for scholars.

AJ Prep’s mind-body approach also helps promote the success of scholars who previously struggled with behavior and learning challenges. As one eighth grader remarks on his experience at the school, “the more you engage in something, the more you learn, the more you remember it, you feel me? You learn very easy here.”  Read the full article via Forbes

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