Capture Kids' Heart handshake

Fourth-grade teacher Gina Brooks greets her students at the door. The Capturing Kids’ Hearts program uses this as its foundation to connect teachers with their students.

Payson Unified School District just received recognition as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School from the Flippen Group.

But the program took awhile to take hold.

Two superintendents ago, Ron Hitchcock spent thousands of dollars the district didn’t have to buy into Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

Both the community and teachers balked at the program’s suggestions to shake each student’s hand as they walked into the classroom, and sharing personal details of their lives.

Initially, the program faded after a year of districtwide effort.

Then, when current Superintendent Greg Wyman took over, he dusted off the program and fully committed. He warned the school board it would take at least three years to change the culture.

And it did.

Now the school board ends each of its meetings with a launch — a quote on a positive thought.

Teachers greet students as they line up in the morning.

Raised hands crossed in a “T” signal a child or adult has taken offense. This starts a whole conversation with the intent of finding resolution.

At Julia Randall Elementary, Principal Linda Scoville has created a safe space for students to get a hold of their emotions. In the CKH room, students “reflect on their behavior and develop a plan of action to be more positive when they return to the classroom.”

“The CKH room is a unique room and the facilitator from the Flippen Group, who evaluated our schools, indicated she was going to take that idea and model it at her school,” said Scoville.

At Payson Center for Success, lead teacher Linda Gibson said each morning students and staff share good things with each other. A student facilitates the morning meeting.

“Getting to know our students on a personal level and making strong positive connections between students and adults has become our culture,” she said. “This program provides a critical foundation to build on the power of positive relationships.”

The Flippen Group recognized the district as a good example of Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

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I cover the Town of Payson, courts, wildfire, business, families, non-profits, the environment and investigative reporting

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