Challenger Elementary School

Jun 28, 2022 by Anita Reid

Open Circle

School of Distinction AwardHuntsville City Schools

Principal, Dr. Michele Wallace

Superintendent, Mrs. Christie Finley

Challenger Elementary School (CES) implemented the Open Circle model which empowers students to develop problem-solving skills and resolve conflicts in peaceful ways. Challenger used a systemic and comprehensive approach to research and implemented the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program across all grade levels (K-5). Following professional development, Challenger began using the daily 10–15-minute lessons throughout the school. The spiral-designed curriculum started the year with a unit titled, Beginning Together, to establish rules, learn nonverbal signals, and explore ways to embrace similarities and differences among students. The following units included Managing Ourselves, Strengthening Relationships, How to Sort Problems, and concluded with Problem Solving. Open Circle was facilitated by the teacher in each classroom. This built community and relationships among the students and teachers who worked closely together throughout the day. After creating classroom communities, all leadership and specialist faculty joined classrooms on a rotating basis to engage in the circles. As evidenced by discipline data, Challenger saw kinder, gentler, and more mindful students by using Open Circle strategies. Faculty members also benefitted by helping students learn to self-regulate and witnessed their progression throughout the year. The entire Challenger community benefitted from using Open Circle!