Showcase Schools

Junior High, O’Neal named national ‘showcase’ schools
Posted on 04/25/2017

O’Neal Elementary and Poplar Bluff Junior High are among 53 school campuses out of over 10,000 to be named national showcase schools by the Flippen Group for topnotch implementation of the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.

“These two campuses now have a regional and national profile and will be getting phone calls from folks, and possibly visits to show others: ‘This is kind of how we do business here. This is who we are,’” said Sean Dunphy, leadership development strategist for the Flippen Group. Dunphy has served as the R-I district’s trainer for the past three years.

Capturing Kids’ Hearts, a cultural initiative that centers on building positive relationships with students, was first piloted at Junior High during the 2013/14 school year and expanded to O’Neal the following year, ultimately becoming a district-wide practice.

The professional development was first discovered when R-I school officials visited the Mooresville Graded School District, a flagship school technologically, to explore its 1:1 laptop program. 

“The kids were speaking in front of hundreds of people and doing things not necessarily common for 10th or 11th graders,” recalled Bob Case, Junior High principal. “We noticed something—an air about it—so we just asked. Laptops had nothing to do with it.” 

Case, along with administrators from Senior High and the former 5th & 6th Grade Center, subsequently visited the Flippen Group headquarters for a workshop four years ago, and determined it would be worthwhile for the entire district to pursue.

When Dr. Amy Dill assumed the post of O’Neal principal this school year, one of her first orders of business—as will continue to be a directive of new employees next school year—was receiving Capturing Kids’ Hearts training.

“It’s what good teachers do naturally, but it’s nice to have procedures where it’s an expectation for everyone – adults and kids,” Dill said. Case agreed, adding that the tools are used with intentionality. 

Some of those tools on the showcase campuses, along with the other buildings throughout the district, include meeting and greeting students at the start of the day, beginning classes with ‘good things,’ social contracts in place, affirmation stations and inspirational launches at the end. 

According to a press release issued by the Flippen Group, when a classroom is transformed from a “disruptive, reactive environment” through this process, students are able to “reconnect with their natural curiosity” toward learning. 

As a reward for the achievement, Junior High and O’Neal have received three scholarships apiece for staff members to attend newly developed advanced training by the company this summer in Texas.


Cutline: PBJHS Principal Bob Case shakes the hand of each student before school begins every day.

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