NEW PARIS — National Trail Local School District administrators are looking to build a culture of respect and personal responsibility.
Through a program referred to as “The R-Factor,” National Trail Superintendent Bob Fischer and his elementary, middle and high school principals hope to create a common language and a common set of expectations that will enhance communication between parents, students, and staff.
“We’re finally going to have some continuity,” middle school principal Jen Couch told The Register-Herald. “All the staff has had the same training, and the students are gettting the same message K-12.”
The new program creates clear expectations for students, and establishes certain behaviors as being either “above the line” or “below the line.” It’s been in the works for at least three years, with staff and administrators undergoing intensive leadership training to determine how it can best be applied.
“It was about teaching everyone the vocabulary, and then figuring out how the staff can utilize that in their specific areas,” high school princial Mike Eyler said.
Fischer stressed that the program is also about encouraging students to take ownership of their behavior.
“It’s about changing how you think, how you act, and who you are as a person,” Fischer said. “It’s about what we expect from our students and our staff. It’s about personal responsibility.”
The program, according to Fischer, is built around three core principles, called the Three Beliefs:
Own It. “Everything we do, everything we say, we take ownership of everything,” Fischer said. “When you get in trouble, are you taking responsibility for what you did wrong, or are you trying to blame someone else?
Be relentless. “Everything you do, make sure you’re doing your best.”
Complete the Puzzle. “What are you going to learn from this? How is it going to make you a better person?”
“Our overall goal is to make sure we’re producing the best student, the best kid that we can,” Fischer said. “We truly believe that this is how we’re going to create the best school experience for our students as well as our staff.”
“This is something that’s going to be around for a long time to come,” Fischer continued. “We’re that invested in the beliefs behind it.”
Eyler and Fischer also stressed the importance of building relationships between students, staff, and parents. To that end, teachers will be encouraged to attend extracurricular events and get involved in clubs and other student organizations. This will give students different outlets to build those relationships, according to Fischer.
“The reason the best schools are the best schools is because everyone there is connected and has a relationship,” Fischer said.
Elementary principal Ed Eales agreed.
“The relationship part is important for the kids,” Eales said. “The kids know that their teacher knows who they are, what their favorite color is, that they have siblings.”
Eales also reiterated Couch and Eyler’s points about establishing a common language.
“When the kids come home and say ‘I was above the line today,’ the parents know what that means,” Eales said.
“It’s a mindset of improvement,” Eales continued. “Things are great, but guess what? They can always get better.”