The Halls That Inspire School Beautification Project is a collaborative partnership between Dr. William H. Horton School and Halls That Inspire Inc. The project is funded through The Newark Trust For Education.
Dr. William Horton School of Arts and Technology is a renew school under the leadership of a new administrative team this 2017-18 school year. All key administrators in the building and 50%, of the teaching are new to the building. The most recent data provided through the department of education shows that our school services 74.7% of students who identify as hispanic, 24% who identify as black, .5% who identify as white, .3% who identify as asian, and .1% who identify as american Indian. The gender breakdown is 50% female and 50% male. 10% have a physical disability, 18% have Individual Education Programs, and 87% are classified as economically disadvantaged.
Description of Need
Upon receiving data on the 2016-2017 school year we discovered that absenteeism was a notable problem during the 2016-2017 school year. 54.35% of students were marked as frequently absent, chronically absent, or severely chronically absent. Although we do not have exact data, Dr. William Horton school is one of a cluster of schools that has historically had more discipline referrals than other schools in the district. It is our belief that both discipline referrals and absenteeism are directly related to the culture and climate fostered within the school walls. It is widely known that school culture has a direct impact on student emotional distress and ultimately student academic performance.
Staff at Dr. William Horton School feel that focusing on building a positive culture and climate is absolutely essential in turning around the current trajectory for the students in our care. We aim to promote a learning environment that our students and families feel and successful in. Our emphasis on the importance of climate has been reinforced by a meta- analysis study performed by Wang et al. (1997) which found that school culture and climate were among the top influences in effecting improved student achievement (Wang).
Efficient and Effective Response to Identified Issues
In response to the needs identified above, we will be partnering with a local non-profit called ‘Halls That Inspire’. Students and staff will collaborate to develop core values and rebrand the school. Once accomplished, the professionals from “Halls That Inspire” will design hallway murals that represent the core values and brand in an artistic and symbolic way. These murals will serve as a daily reminder of what our school is working to achieve while transforming the currently dilapidated walls that our children walk through into symbols of hope, creativity, and most importantly, ownership over their own school environment.
This innovative approach to improving school culture is not only fun and engaging but also grounded in research and best practices. According to Wang, Holcombe “students’ perceptions of school environment influenced their academic achievement directly and indirectly through the three types of school engagement. Specifically, students’ perceptions of school characteristics in seventh grade influenced their school participation, identification with school, and use of self-regulation strategies in eighth grade that occur therein and, in turn, influenced students’ academic achievement in eighth grade” (Wang, Holcombe).
Our students’ perceptions of the school will be immediately influenced as they see the walls transform from the bleak environment to one that immediately welcomes them and is focused on positivity and learning. School participation will increase because the school will have one central project that everyone can rally around and build community through. Because the designs will be developed with our students, their identification as a member of our school community will improve and increase. Finally, the use of self-regulation strategies will be easily implemented as students become invested in the project and work to earn opportunities to support and work with the staff provided by ‘Halls That Inspire’.
This initiative will culminate in a large-scale family event called ‘Family Paint Night’. This event will provide our school community the opportunity to foster a safe, supportive, and effective learning environment. The staff/family connection cultivated during this event will better inform our teachers on how to focus on the “whole child”.
Information About Our External and Internal Program Providers
‘Halls that Inspire’ is a service-based non-profit organization that focuses on providing assistance & guidance in the incorporation of a beautification & mentoring program within the school environment. They work to motivate a sense of responsibility and to provide an understanding and highlight the importance of giving back to the school community through high impact, colorful, reinforced positive messages, graphics and slogans. Internally, all Dr. William Horton staff will participate in and support the yearlong initiative to transform the school climate and culture.
This project has been largely funded by our partners at the Newark Trust For Education. The Newark Trust for Education Informs, Engages, and Ignites stakeholders to ensure all Newark children receive the quality public education they deserve.