By Samantha Womack, TCSA Communications Specialist

A recent Gallup poll illustrates students who have at least one teacher who excites them about the future are 30 times more likely to be engaged. Furthermore, if the principal is engaged, there’s a trickle-down effect on teachers, students and families.

Unfortunately, the polling indicates only 31 percent of teachers are highly engaged, with only one-in-three showing involvement, enthusiasm and commitment to their school and their work.

Teachers and staff who have an engaged principal say:

  • I have received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last seven days.
  • Someone at work has talked to me about my progress in the last six months.
  • My opinion seems to count at work.

Gallup found hope and engagement are significant predictors of academic achievement.

But more than 50 percent of students don’t feel they get to do what they do best every day.

When asked what makes a school effective, survey results show its dependent on:

  • Percent of students engaged with their classwork (78%)
  • Percent of students who feel hopeful about their future (77%)
  • Percent of students who graduate from high school (69%)

Standardized test scores came in last.

Additionally, only one in five parents are fully involved with their students’ school. These parents are your vocal advocates and ambassadors of your school—going above and beyond to share their pride.

In contrast, the banking, insurance and healthcare industries have 30 to 40 percent of customers who are fully involved!

Building an engaged school takes a long-term commitment, hard work and dedication to changing your school’s culture.

Where can you start to help your school?

1. Register for the free Gallup Student Poll by October 30 to gauge your students’ engagement. Then analyze the results for what needs changing.

2. Learn more at the Texas Charter Schools Conference at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa from October 28-30. The advocacy session track will cover how to start, build and grow your grassroots advocates on your campus. Register today.

Staff members of Nova Academy pose in their Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirts designed by teacher Sade Burkman and her students.

Staff members of Nova Academy pose in their Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirts designed by teacher Sade Burkman and her students.

By Barbara Mallory Caraway, Special Projects Director, Nova Academy, Dallas

Inspired by a cause close to her heart, one Dallas middle school teacher galvanized her school to action.

When her aunt died of breast cancer in 2014, Nova Academy English teacher Sade Burkman was devastated. Her aunt, Elizabeth Oyetunde, 50, of El Paso, lived with the disease for eight years and is survived by her five children.

She turned her grief into action and took up the crusade to educate others about breast cancer. She began before her aunt’s death, wanting to share risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options. In 2013, Burkman asked and received permission from her administrator for Nova Academy to join the public awareness campaign.

Sade Burkman, 7th and 8th grade English teacher at Nova Academy

Sade Burkman, 7th and 8th grade English teacher at Nova Academy.

That first year, she handed out pink ribbons in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The second year, Burkman created an informational display on breast cancer that included pink-colored paraphernalia.

This year, marks the first since Burkman’s aunt died and it holds special significance for her. She partnered with her students to design a T-shirt that would memorialize those impacted by breast cancer.

“I told them I wanted a heart (love), wings (faith), and ribbons (hope). After three tries they got it right,” she said.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women and one in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If found and treated early, many women can survive the disease. Burkman said it is important for students to understand this disease because of its broad implications for the victims and for surviving family members.

Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps to heal the pain of losing her aunt, she said. And having the school support her in the awareness efforts has been invaluable, she said.

“I am most grateful to [Nova Academy CEO] Donna Houston-Woods -- for her encouragement and support,” she said.

“I mentioned to her last year that I wanted to do something a little more, and I left it at that. When school started she reminded me of my intentions. She supported the T-shirt idea," Burkman said.

Staff members now wear the T-shirts every Wednesday in October.

With tears, she said, “I’m happy.”

 

Nova Academy serves more than 900 students at three campus locations in Dallas. The charter's mission is to educate all students in a multi-cultural environment where parents and the community will serve as partners in achieving academic excellence of our students.

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