What initiative can we take today to cultivate a culture of success tomorrow? No school better embodies this question than Watertown Middle School. Building a Brick House school culture originates from a labor of love, a commitment to a firm foundation, intentional decision making to secure each brick is in the right place at the right time, and complete trust in those leading the charge. When done right, the result is a strong, solid, supportive Brick House that can stand the test of time. Each year, the Power of ICU team recognizes a school that has a proven history of successfully supporting student learning. We are honored to announce Watertown Middle School as the recipient of the 2018 Brick House Achievement Award.
For the past 11 years, Watertown Middle School has proven they have built and sustained a strong, solid, supportive school culture that places student needs as the keystone of learning. Many school improvement strategies are a top-down action plan. However, what makes Watertown unique is the fervor behind the teacher-led initiative that brought about their success. With the support of their Principal, Todd Brist, it was Watertown Middle teachers that sought out a system to inspire dramatic change in their school culture.
While attending the SREB 2009 Summer Conference, a team of teachers participated in sessions focused on combatting student apathy. Following Danny Hill’s presentation, based on his book Brick House, they were convinced that Power of ICU was the intervention approach their school and students needed. Despite the challenges of launching an initiative in the middle of the school year, the teachers insisted Danny and several members of the Power of ICU team travel to South Dakota and begin developing the plan to inspire a culture shift at WMS. Almost immediately after incorporating built in intervention time and a team of lifeguards, the faculty could see a difference in student performance. These changes became the cornerstone of their Brick House culture and they took aim at “building an army of support that removes obstacles and emphasizes accountability in order to create success for all involved.”
It wasn’t long before the teachers requested the final piece, the ICU Database. According to Principal Brist, “Since then we have continued to improve our quality of work, grading practices, and assignment completion; ending the past five years with a 99.99% closing rate.” Parents and teachers now work collaboratively using notifications sent from the ICU Database similar to a blueprint communicating the student’s needs and the plan to get the work done. Watertown students are expected to do quality work on every assignment supporting the mission of making learning the focus, not points or grades. Over the past 5 years, the Power of ICU has laid a firm foundation with layers of support to improve student achievement raising the passing rate for all classes to 100%. However, it is the unmeasurable that has made the biggest impact.
The Power of ICU has equipped Watertown students with confidence in receiving academic lifeguard support, a sense of ownership and responsibility for their assignments on the list, and perseverance in remediating towards mastery. Because of their consistent commitment to excellence, Watertown Middle School has earned the distinction of receiving the 2018 Brick House Achievement Award.