CLINTON — After attending a recent workshop in southern Iowa, Clinton School District officials are looking to institute practices that will better shape relationships between educators and students.

The workshop in Moravia, which featured the national "Capturing Kids' Hearts" program, allowed those in attendance a refresher course on how to engage and interest students in coming to school every day, as well as contributing to society later on in life.

Now those officials are bringing what they learned back to local students and colleagues.

"When we look at our schools, yes, we're producing academic success, but we want to produce successful people," Jefferson Elementary School Principal Theresa Schultz, one of the attendees, told the Clinton School Board on Monday night. "Using a framework like Capturing Kids' Hearts gives more attention to the whole child, and reminds us that that's super important."

Another workshop-goer, new Eagle Heights Elementary Principal Rhett Weis, told board members that the program was a reminder of many small things that are easy to neglect when interacting with students – things such as tone of voice, body language and eye contact.

Weis highlighted a fact that, if a first interaction between an educator and a student is negative in any sense, it may take up to 20 more interactions to repair that relationship.

"It's that kind of information, those kinds of tidbits as I'm meeting new staff and meeting new students... those are things that I really don't think about, but now I'll bring back for myself. That's essential," Weis said.

Superintendent Gary DeLacy said preliminary training sessions are being set up for certain district employees on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10 to begin implementation of a "culture-changing" strategy.

"You'll hear this from me over and over: We are working in a humanistic profession," DeLacy said Monday. "I'll be the first person to say that student achievement is very, very important – very important. But if we neglect the human side of this profession and building relationships between each other and with kids... their premise is that you can't capture a kid's mind unless you capture their heart."

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