House rules: Middle schools turn to Harry Potter to promote behavior

Published 1:27 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Davie County middle schools are houses divided.

But it’s OK; they’re each still one family.

South Davie, Ellis and North Davie middle schools are taking part in the House System, a program developed by Ron Clark of Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. It uses a model from the Harry Potter series designed to make every student feel valued and motivated to learn and behave.

Earlier this month, North Davie Middle School students got together for a kickoff, and the names of each sixth grade student was read as they were assigned to their “house.” It was a raucous time with lots of yelling, flashing lights and loud music.

“The goal of the House System is to promote a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and healthy competition among students,” said North Davie principal, Bryant Copeland. “It helps create a supportive and inclusive environment where every student feels valued and motivated to succeed.”

Each of the six houses represents a specific trait or value, such as unity, passion, uplifting, friendship, respect and courage.

It works like this: each student accumulates points based on their academic performance, behavior and participation in school activities, and their points contribute to their house’s overall score.

Each week or month, and at the end of each quarter, the house that earns the most points is celebrated with rewards, such as special privileges or field trips.

Copeland, who donned striped pants, a top hat and long coat to emcee the house kickoff, says the program works.

“The House System fosters teamwork and collaboration, as students work together with their housemates to achieve shared goals. It also encourages positive behavior and character development, as students strive to uphold their house’s core values,” Copeland said.

The system aims to enhance student engagement, foster a sense of community, and build a vibrant, supportive school culture.

“At North Davie, we have seen an increase in positive school culture and support for students who don’t naturally land in the typical peer groups of academics, sports or the arts,” he said. “All students have a ‘home at North Davie and that home is their House.”

It also fits in with the school vision, NorthLEADS (Leaders Each Achieving Dynamic Success).

“With the house system, it is a way to focus on each student as an individual and show students that their gifts and talents matter to our school,” Copeland said.

The purpose of a House System:

• to foster a profound sense of belonging for all students;

• nurture positive and meaningful connections between students and educators;

• cultivate a collaborative spirit that underscores teamwork; and

• ensure  that every student feels valued and included, eliminating a feeling of exclusion.

“Each house has a name, a distinctive color scheme, and origination. These houses give students the opportunity to connect with students across classes and grades that they may not normally have a chance to interact with,” said Karen Jarvis, Davie Schools communications director. “This helps students gain more friendships and create a family-like culture at each school.”