Dec. 9, 2019
Please scroll down to see a photo gallery of this event.
“To me, life is about experiences, the ones you make for yourself and the ones you make for others.”
— Ron Clark, author of “The Essential 55”
Fifth-grade students at Harrison Street Elementary School
just had an experience they may never forget.
What started in the classroom, included a limo ride to City Hall, and ended with encouraging cheers from peers and family members, has resulted in an opportunity to develop lifelong skills of communication, collaboration, and citizenship.
Supported each step of the way by their fifth-grade teachers Ms. Napravnik, Ms. Dailey and Ms. Robbins and Principal Westerhoff, all 76 fifth-grade students at Harrison participated in The Amazing Shake — a competition based on Ron Clark’s nationally recognized competition that places an emphasis on discipline, respect, and professional conduct.
Beginning with the District Vision
“Our unit began with an essential question: ‘What does it take to meet my goals?’” according to Napravnik. “After our (teacher professional development) experience at The Ron Clark Academy, we hoped that by holding students to high expectations, they would be able to live out our District Vision through this experience.”
What came next,
according to Napravnik, was an unexpected community reaction that also aligned
with the District Vision.
“We were blown away by the amount of support and collaboration from community members, business owners, board members, central office leaders, Harrison staff, parents, and students. As our principal, Brenna Westerhoff, stated at our awards ceremony: ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world. (-Gandhi)’. We hope that the skills the students learned through this experience have gently shaken the Geneva community and will serve them as they strive for their goals.”
Clark’s book, “The Essential 55” includes 55 educator’s “rules” for discovering the successful student in every child. Harrison’s fifth-grade team decided to focus on 20 of those rules for their students, which they included in the curriculum in the weeks and months leading up to the competition.
Prior to the competition, students learned the nuances of
professional human interaction as they were taught skills such as how to give a
proper handshake, how to make small talk, basic interview skills, and how to
make an engaging one-minute elevator speech.
“The goal is to prepare our students so that they are able to represent themselves exceptionally well for opportunities today as well as those that will come in the future,” Napravnik said.
The Amazing Shake
The Amazing Shake competition consisted of three rounds:
Round 1: All fifth-graders participated in 10 case-scenario
situations in the HSS cafeteria: small talk, broadcasting the news, ordering
food from a menu, identifying what flatware is used in formal dining,
accepting an award and giving a thank-you speech, scheduling a doctor
appointment, selling a product for an infomercial, answering a difficult
question, and eating etiquette. Several Geneva
business owners volunteered for the scenario stations and served as
Round 2: The top 30 students from Round 1 participated in a mock scholarship interview at the District’s Central Office. This consisted of typical interview questions with 7 administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler.
Round 3: The top 10 students from Round 2 were escorted to and
from City Hall in a limousine, where they recited for the Mayor and his staff
short speeches that they had prepared on what they love about the City of
On the fourth day of the Amazing Shake, all participating students were recognized for their achievements. Volunteer judges and families were invited back to the school for a ceremony in which all fifth-graders received class T-shirts with the logo “Fifth Grade Rules.” The top 30 students received recognition for their efforts, the 10 finalists received small trophys and certificates, and the winning student received a gift card.
When asked what he liked most about the Amazing Shake, the winner
of the competition Camden said:
“I loved the experience of going to City Hall and Central Office, and that we had to dress nicely. In those times I felt so grown up.”
In a manner that also reflects the District’s Vision, Camden showed gratitude for his peers and supporters:
“What I also liked was how respectful and thoughtful everyone was, like Mayor Burns and Dr. Mutchler, for taking the time out their days just for us. Also, the fifth-grade teachers for putting forth hard work and effort.”
Lessons and Growth
While the win-and-loss
scenario that the competition created was new for many, the teachers emphasized
growth as the key takeaway, according to Ms. Dailey.
“As Ron Clark says: ‘Rule 52: Accept that you are going to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.’ We tried to encourage good sportsmanship, humility, uplifting others, and staying positive,” Dailey said.
students for both success and loss, focusing on the value of supporting one
“We had them write a self-reflection on their actions should their name be called or not to advance to the next round of competition,” Dailey said. “Ultimately, we have the parents and students to thank for supporting one another throughout the process and hearing our message of growth.”
According to Ms.
Robbins, many students gained confidence in this challenge and learned how to
accept failure. One student in particular, who at first struggled at not having
advanced beyond Round 1, experienced the lesson that failures are really an
opportunity for growth. Before the end of the week, this student gave a warm
sendoff to a classmate before the final round.
“Ron Clark really emphasizes the idea that classmates are family,” Robbins said. “This student embraced and demonstrated this message in the end.”
Harrison Street School students and staff would like to thank the following
judges and participants:
Cabeen, Board Member
Egan, Board Vice President
Rob Brucato, Scentcerely Yours
Bomberger & Karen Fitzgerald, BG Hospitality Group
Blicken, Valley Education for Employment System
Bisceglie, Lelianee Depaz and Dana Stone, MySalon
Lori Bingham, Graham’s Dine Chocolates & Ice Cream
Jones, Geneva Public Library District
Johnson, Geneva Fire Department
Frieders, Geneva Police Department
Deniz, Partner in Health
Schroeder, Smith and Richardson
Ralish, Peaceful Parlour
Roxanne Osborne, Harvey’s Tales Bookshop
Laskowski, Craft Urban
Keenan, GIA MIA
Dr. Kent Mutchler
Superintendent for Learning & Teaching Dr. Andrew Barrett
Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Adam Law
Superintendent for Business Services Dr. Dean Romano
of Student Services Anne Giarrante
of Learning & Teaching Shonette Sims
of Technology Mike Wilkes
Director of Student Services Jamie Benavides
City of Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns
City of Geneva Communications Coordinator Kevin Stahr
Jill Johnson, Chairman, Strategic Plan Advisory Committee
Additional thanks to Jeff's Razorback Transit Inc. for providing a very special limo ride for our students to City Hall.
Please scroll down to see a photo gallery from this event.
*Fifth Grade Rules logo design by Safe-Di Awards Co