Title of Best Practice: Grow Strong: Focus on What’s Strong
Instead of What’s Wrong!
Primary Principles Emphasized: 4, 7, and 10
Every student is inspired to learn, grow, and be empowered
to excel by building home, school and community partnerships. We teach
our children to focus on their talents and strengths in order to increase
engagement, which in turn increased academic growth. We strive to cultivate
a vibrant learning community that prepares students to thrive in a dynamic
world. We foster a positive, uplifting learning community by building
positive relationships, collaborations, and striving to accommodate the
needs of all families within the Bryant Woods community.
Principle 4: Creates a caring school community.
At Bryant Woods, we foster a positive learning community
within our students by promoting kindness and how to care of one another.
We teach our children the importance of having great character and letting
their personality shine through! Character is the real foundation of all
worthwhile success! Bryant Woods promotes great character through our
partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City for the BWES Terrific
Kids program! On the first Friday of each month, our teachers recognize
students that they see exhibit Bryant Woods Pride:
Students are recognized on the morning announcements,
take a picture for the Terrific Kids Bulletin board, receive Terrific
Kids certificate, pencils, pins, and bumper stickers, and a picture with
the principal! We have also implemented a Bucket Filling Program where
students are encouraged to show random acts of kindness on a daily basis!
Bucket filling encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy
and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily
basis. The bucket represents your mental and emotional self. One’s
bucket is filled when a student displays:
• Actions or words that show that you care about someone
• Saying or doing something kind
• Giving someone a heartfelt smile
• Using names with respect
• Helping without being asked
• Giving sincere compliments
• Showing respect to others. There are hundreds of wonderful ways
to fill buckets!
Students get a chance to catch those awesome bucket fillers
by completing a bucket filler slip, and placing it in the bucket box located
inside of the cafeteria or in Ms. Armstead’s mailbox. Each morning,
Ms. Armstead recognizes two students over the morning announcements as
the Bryant Woods’ Heroes of the Day for being awesome bucket fillers!
Through our Grow Strong initiative, we held Grow Strong Weeks! The theme
If We BELIEVE, Then We Will ACHIEVE!
When we focus on the strengths and talents of our students,
it increases engagement, which in turn increases academic growth! Bryant
Woods was able to celebrate one Grow Strong principle each week through
classroom strength activities and fun school-wide activities! The principles
and activities were:
5 Principles of Growing Strong
I. Do What We Do Best Everyday *Activity*: Dress Your Best Day: Put your
best foot forward!
II. Start With The Goal In Mind *Activity*: College Day: Wear your favorite
III. Engage in Positive Experiences in School *Activity*: Wacky Tacky
Day: Dress as wacky as you can!
IV. Create Excitement for the Future *Activity*: Future’s So Bright
Day: Wear your favorite shades/sunglasses!
V. Celebrate Effort and Achievement *Activity*: Positive Post-It Day:
Leave a positive message about someone on their desk or door! Show your
kindness and appreciation!
Lastly, we had a our Anti-Bullying Campaign: Make it
Orange and Make it End! The school came together in orange and talked
about the importance of a Bully-Free Zone. Our students even said a pledge
and joined the Bully Blockers Club! It was a great event to come together
and focus on spreading love and kindness.
Principle 7: Strives to foster students’ self-motivation.
At Bryant Woods Elementary School, we strive to teach
our children not only self-confidence, but also to motivate and encourage
each other. Each and every morning on the morning announcements, our students
recite the Bryant Woods Bear Chant together stating:
(Staff & Students): I am a BEAR!
(Staff): Bears are BIG!
(Students): I have BIG dreams!
(Staff): Bears are FAST!
(Students): I will be productive and complete all my work!
(Staff): Bears have great hearing!
(Students): I will listen and follow directions the first time!
(Staff): Bears have VISION!
(Students): I see a bright future ahead of me!
(Staff): Bears are social!
(Students): I will interact positively with others!
(Staff): Bears are strong!
(Students): I will work hard and do my best!
(Staff & Students): I am a BEAR!
This has built community in our school, and allows our
students to have a daily affirmation reminding them that they can do whatever
they put their mind to. Ms. Armstead, the School Counselor, has monthly
guidance lessons within all 21 classrooms. Throughout Ms. Armstead’s
guidance lessons, she teaches the children how to positive self-talk,
solve conflicts in a peaceful and respectful manner, and how to help others
instead of hurt. Character lessons have been integrated with student strengths.
Students have been able to discuss how to be respectful of others, be
responsible for themselves and their actions, spread kindness, and to
persevere through! It is so important to never give up on the dreams and
hopes that they have for their amazing bright futures. Each month our
students learn and see how they can use their super strengths and talents
to be the best hey can be. The Super Strengths for the month were:
When our students as well as our staff use their strengths
and talents, they worker harder, they are more engaged, and build stronger
relationships and connections with those around them. Using the Grow Strong
platform, we help our students graduate and leave Bryant Woods with more
padding, hope, and inner strength to keep their fire going as they go
into middle school. We want our students to cross that stage twice! Not
just in high school, but college as well, instilling their college and
Our students that exhibit excellent, self-motivating
behavior get the opportunities to earn Bear Bucks, POSITIVE Office Referrals,
Citizenship and Great Character Awards quarterly, Terrific Kids Awards,
and Bryant Woods Hero Award. Our students have even took the initiative
to help implement a Student Mentors program, where our older students
in 5th grade can help motivate and encourage our younger children. This
has truly helped with student engagement as well as academic growth.
Our students also had the opportunity to participate
in the Pasta for Pennies/Pennies for Patients campaign! The Pasta for
Pennies Campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was a student-led
program where students were able to show citizenship, responsibility,
generosity, and kindness by raising money for patients. We rocked our
school goal with $2,686.20! Our students came together
and showed how much they cared to end blood cancers! It meant so much
to the patients and their families!
Principle 10: Engages families and community members
as partners in the character-building
At Bryant Woods, we have a Family Involvement Team. The
vision and mission of our FIT team states:
Every student is inspired to learn and empowered to excel by building
home, school and community partnerships.
To cultivate a vibrant learning community that prepares students to thrive
in a dynamic world. We will increase family engagement by building positive
relationships, collaboration, and striving to accommodate the needs of
all families within the Bryant Woods community.
Our Terrific Kid program is a great example of building
positive partnerships with the Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City. Through
this amazing partnership, teachers are able to recognize students that
they see exhibit Bryant Woods Pride:
This year, Bryant Woods was able to have their first
Career Day! Over 50 guests (parents and community members) participated
and came in to present to our students! Aligning with our College and
Career initiative, we wanted to expose our students to the wonderful careers
and occupations that are within our community! We wanted our students
to know how adults use the subjects they learn at school in their jobs,
as well as the hard work, dedication, and perseverance it took to get
them where they are now! Students had the opportunity to learn about specific
occupations, the importance of the subjects they study in school, and
positive attitude they should have. We strive for our students to continue
to dream big, and want nothing more than to instill hope in them that
they can reach their fullest potential. Some of our 4th and 5th graders
had the position of Student Ambassadors, where they were able to be the
leaders of Bryant Woods, welcome our guests, and be their personal escorts
throughout the day. It was an amazing event, and our students were truly
able to see how bright their future is!
Bryant Woods Elementary is the first and only school
in Howard County to have an in-house Food Pantry in partnership with the
Howard County Food Bank. Community members are welcomed on Tuesdays and
Fridays each week to pick up food for their family. Our students use their
strength of caring and citizenship to organize and feed the Wilde Lake
Community. It’s amazing to see their eagerness and kindness shine!
The Maryland Center for Character
Educationat Stevenson University
School of Education, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, MD 21153