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Saturday, November 17, 2018

‘Be Your Best’ at John F. Kennedy Elementary School

Lindsay GaynierAs a first-year principal here at John F. Kennedy, I have worked to establish a culture where our mission and vision are present every day.

Kennedy is a place where students, staff, families and community members feel welcome and safe. There is a very distinct, positive feel on campus where we celebrate academic and social-emotional/ behavioral success. We also strive to teach our students the importance of being a part of a team, exhibiting positive characteristics, and being self-aware. Additionally, we are working to teach our students to have a voice and to advocate for themselves and their peers. All the while excelling in academics.

Our staff has worked to develop and implement a Positive Behavior Intervention Support System that clearly defines the expectations for our students throughout campus. We want our students to “Be your Best” by coming to school every day and Being Respectful, Being Responsible and Being Ready to Learn. We want to instill in our students that their best may look very different than another student’s best, but if they are being respectful, being responsible and are ready to learn, they will be exhibiting their best.

Our staff is in the process of rolling out each of these individual settings with student videos exemplifying what exactly it looks like Being Respectful, Being Responsible and Being Ready to Learn around campus. Students will learn firsthand from their peers and be held accountable by both peers and staff to exhibit all of these expectations.

One way that we are celebrating and recognizing students who are living out “Be your Best” is through our Principal Pals. Students can be referred by exhibiting their best in one of 16 characteristics in either behavior or academics. We are recognizing 50 to 60 students each month through this initiative and the behaviors are becoming contagious.

All stakeholders can play a key role in our students’ ability to “Be your Best.” We need the support of our families and community members to instill positive behavior and set high expectations for academics for our students. We know that we cannot do it alone. We recognize the need for parent and community involvement and try to open our doors for these collaborative opportunities as much as possible.

Once a month, we welcome parent, family and community volunteers on to campus to Come Read to a Child. Literacy is the foundation to learning and we want our students to experience literacy from a multitude of individuals, including those closest to them. We love having families take the time out of their schedules to continue our students learning and exposure to text. We also welcome families on to campus for Math and Literacy Nights, where they have the opportunity to make and take activities to continue student’s learning in the home. We celebrate students and families monthly at our student of the month celebration. We recently celebrated all of the wonderful careers by welcoming a variety of volunteers to come and speak to our students for Career Day. We were able to welcome several police officers to campus to show our appreciation and to become more familiar with their job. Our students truly blossom from these types of opportunities and interactions.

We are excited to welcome a large team of Chase Volunteers on campus who will work with our team to help make some of our campus dreams a reality.

We are constantly striving to bring new learning opportunities through firsthand interactions to our students so they can continue working on being their best.

We are lucky to have community members and families who are helping our vision of Kennedy come to life for our students. We know that this truly is a collective effort and involves everyone. Our vision for our students and campus drives all that we do each and every day. We are proud and excited for our students to be their best and we welcome all of you to be involved in their journey as life-long learners to “Be your best!”


Lindsay Gaynier is principal at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in the

Roosevelt School District.


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