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Ontonagon Area Schools’ employees participate in school social training

The purpose – to help school staff make better connections with students in a positive and impactful way.
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - Ontonagon Area Schools staff participated the second of three training sessions, last week, of a process called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts.”

It’s presented by the Flippen group and paid for by Portage Health Foundation.

The purpose – to help school staff make better connections with students in a positive and impactful way.

“We help put some fundamental things in place so that teachers have a way to replicate connecting with students in a way that’s manageable [and] easy to communicate,” said Flippen Senior Leadership Development Strategist, Kristin Booth. “Because we know that connected kids are kids who learn. We know connected kids are kids who come to school.”

A major aspect of the training focuses on the language the staff uses with students. For example, it comes down to saying, “What are you doing?” instead of scolding with a “You shouldn’t be doing that.”

“The real reason is, we are looking to make an impact on mental health issues that are affecting our children,” said Portage Health Foundation Executive Director Kevin Store.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts also helps teachers brainstorm ways to keep kids more engaged.

“When we start thinking about students as people and not merely just filling a seat,” said John Uotila, Ontonagon Area Schools teacher/principal. “It really makes you think about the effect you are having on them, on their circle of people, their friends, families, and everybody involved.”

Uotila says Capturing Kids’ Hearts is not about fixing bad educators. It’s simply giving excellent ones the tools to give kids the best day possible – every day.

“Now, when you really get a chance to be introspective, you really want to be better. Because now, we’ve gone through this. You’re accountable,” concluded Uotila.

Ontonagon Area Schools Superintendent Jim Bobula says the training has been well received by his staff.

“We want to make this school district the most positive experience for our students,” said Bobula. “While they’re here, we want them to feel safe and cared for at all times.”

Ontonagon Area Schools will complete training before the start of the 2021/22 school year.

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