CLK Elementary receives national award for Capturing Kids’ Hearts program

Copper Country

CALUMET, Mich. (PRESS RELEASE/WJMN) – CLK Elementary School in Calumet has received a national award for the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.

Since 2019, the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium, and Keweenaw have been working with the Flippen Group, the company running Capturing Kids’ Hearts, to continue their journey of becoming trauma-informed.

Through grants provided by Portage Health Foundation, their vision has become a reality at CLK Elementary. Throughout this process, CLK has acquired three therapy dogs, started a Handle with Care Program with local police, and had trauma specialists speak to staff about the effects of trauma.

In April Capturing Kids’ Hearts announced a select group of campuses received the Capturing Kids’ Hearts (CKH) National Showcase Schools award for the 2020-2021 school year. Since the program has been implemented, CLK Elementary is the only school in the Upper Peninsula to receive national recognition for its dedication to the program.

“We were recognized because each and every day our staff is making a difference in the lives of these kids.”Things like social contracts are a reminder to treat others with kindness and respect,” said CLK Elementary Assistant Principal Julie Giachino.

National Showcase Schools are chosen annually through a rigorous selection process that includes measuring key performance indicators, gathering campus data, and surveying staff and students. The results represent the implementation of CKH processes as well as the culture and climate on each campus.

“[The program] really focuses on creating that positive culture and climate in our school environment and within our community,” said CLK Elementary Principal Matthew Hampton. “It really focuses on developing social contracts, which are behind Darren Kinnunen, it really empowers the students and the staff and really just focuses in on the person first.”

Staff members underwent training where they learned how to strengthen the trust between teachers and students, the support of trauma-informed care, and enabling student connectedness.

The program’s basic premise is educators need to put their students and relationships with them at the forefront of everything they do:

  • Adults greeting all staff and students.
  • Social Contracts in all classrooms that are like classroom constitutions. They define the expected behaviors of how students treat each other, treat our teachers, and handle conflict. These are created as a group, with input from all students.
  • Good things sharing being done to begin conversations by telling those around you something good.
  • Lifting each other up with kindness through affirmations.
  • Students and staff use non-verbal signals to “check” one another if they aren’t following the Social Contract. This isn’t to get them in trouble, but to help them turn their behavior around so they don’t get in trouble. Once a student is checked, they give a thumbs up to let the other person know they received the message.

“First and foremost, just spend time with kids, and honestly the academics will just follow, when the kids feel supported and trusted and loved, the academics is the easy piece,” said Darren Kinnunen, a social worker for CLK Public Schools.

In our web exclusive, Kinnunen explains what a trauma-informed school is.

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