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This Hanover school found a magical way to improve grades

This Hanover school found a magical way to improve grades
Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 15:28:15-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Welcome to “Magical Mondays" at John Gandy Elementary School.

"That's when the houses mix up and the kids come here all together in 3rd grade for example, and they break off into their houses," principal Leigh Finch said.

Houses and magic.

It sounds like something out of Harry Potter's Hogwarts, but these houses have grades flying, not brooms.

"Their achievement soars through having a connection through an adult," team leader Lauren Churchill said. “We provide an opportunity to build those relationships. That's what we're hoping to see come from this."

Lauren Churchill

Ms. Churchill got the idea after she and other teachers visited the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. They also had inspiration from Greenwood Elementary School in Henrico.  They started a house system last school year and served as mentors in the creation of John Gandy’s house system.

The students find out their house with a sorting ceremony at the pre-K thru 2nd grade Henry Clay Elementary School. The students keep their house when they move to John Gandy’s 3rd thru 5th grade campus.

Ms. Churchill and a group of resource leaders provide each house with a trait and a purpose.

The traits are divided into empathy, innovation, respect, trustworthiness and gratefulness.

The activities are fun and wild.

The lessons are simple.

"Anytime kids are engaged they're going to have better academic performance," Ms. Finch said. “They want to be here and looking forward to what they're going to do and we're going to see better engagement. "

Leigh Finch

The result is simply magical.

"It's hard to say without getting emotional because I really care about it," Ms. Churchill said as tears welled up.  “I want them to feel loved. I want them to have a place where they feel special and feel connected and I want them to know that we really care deeply for them.  And that they have that love here."

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 and 6 p.m. on CBS 6.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 and 6 p.m. on CBS 6.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 and 6 p.m. on CBS 6 and is sponsored by Virginia Family Dentistry.