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staff and students gathered for the CKH announcement

Dix Street Elementary is among four OPS schools that have once again received the distinction of being chosen as National Showcase Schools for Capturing Kids’ Hearts, a national program that puts the focus on relationships first, an Otsego focus.

The National Showcase Schools awards announcement states that “Capturing Kids’ Hearts recognizes and celebrates schools that go the extra mile each day, creating the social-emotional safety on school campuses that is conducive to learning.” This year, 468 schools received this honor.

“CKH continues to provide our staff with a consistent model throughout the building/district that keeps the focus on building relationships,” says Dix Street Principal Mark VanderKlok. “Our continued success as a district rests on the shoulders of having a solid tier one social/emotional model for all staff and students. The individual student successes of feeling supported and cared for continues to be our motivation and is the best accolade we receive.”

"The real story is with the students who have seen success for the first time after attending DSE. Each year we get a number of students who are school of choice students from surrounding districts. Most decide to make the change because their student is not finding the success they would like. I have a number of students right now in the building whose parents have mentioned how different their child is since attending DSE. This is a reflection of the staff and the continued focus on relationships first," VanderKlok adds.

For more than a decade, Otsego Public Schools has partnered with Capturing Kids’ Hearts for professional development across the district with a goal of training all staff members in this relationships-first program. “Through experiential training, expert coaching, and personalized support, Capturing Kids' Hearts equips professionals in K-12 education to implement transformational processes focused on social-emotional wellbeing, relationship-driven culture, and student connectedness,” states the CKH National Showcase Schools announcement. CKH began in 1990 by Flip Flippen with one school and has grown to serve 37,000 educators

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