North Tattnall Middle School (NTMS) Principal Donny Sikes introduced the Ron Clark Academy (RCA) House System in 2020.
The RCA House System is a dynamic, exciting, and proven way to create a positive climate and culture for students and staff. Using RCA’s methods helps schools or districts confidently implement processes that build character, relationships, and school spirit.
Principal Sikes and NTMS STEM Teacher Inga Cashon both visited Ron Clark Academy in Southeast Atlanta, thanks to a grant from Georgia Power, in October 2019. Principal Sikes liked the idea of implementing the house system at NTMS but waited until the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided to introduce it to his school. The system has improved the culture and climate at NTMS, according to Cashon.
“The RCA House System has brought a sense of belonging to our students as students are grouped by Houses and not by grade level. A student remains in their House throughout sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. Teachers, staff, and students are in Houses, and House Days become an eventful competitive experience for all! The students are able to see House progress, such as which House is in the lead and their pictures on digital displays in the hallway immediately once points have been received,” Cashon said.
The RCA House System features eight houses, but NTMS only has four of them: Altruismo, Amistad, Isibindi, and Reveur. The houses act as learning and leadership communities for students, and each house has its own color, symbols, nation of heritage, history, and more. Over time, each house also starts to take on its own values and personality driven by the culture of the students and staff within it.
“We feel the house system has an extremely positive effect! It is ideal for middle schoolers and has created a sense of belonging and inclusivity among all our students. When I was in school, for example, people said things about kids that might have looked or dressed a little different,” Prinicpal Sikes said. “With the house system, it promotes kids to say things like, ‘Na, he’s in the blue house, he’s with us,’ and combating that negative behavior before it even starts. Plus, there is the element of friendly completion — house cheers and competitions, like Reverse Simon Says and three-legged race. We feel it’s important to make school a place students look forward to coming to and the RCA house system has definitely aided us in that,” Principal Sikes said.
At the beginning of each school year, NTMS has virtual wheel the students spin to decide which house they will be in, and the students and the teachers really get into it.
The RCA House System at NTMS acts as a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) Rewards program. Students are rewarded for showing PRIDE (Productive, Respectful, Involved, Dependable, and Excellent) by receiving points for their house. NTMS hosts “House Days” to give students and teachers the opportunity to compete for points. Once a house reaches a total of 500 points, house t-shirts are unlocked. Each student can receive a t-shirt with their house logo once they individually reach 10 points.
Jessie Clifton, a social studies teacher at NTMS, is very involved in the rewards program for the RCA Housing System. Anytime a student meets their point goal, Clifton makes sure they are rewarded, according to Cashon.
“Though individual points are calculated, the overall team totals motivate students to work more diligently on developing and demonstrating positive character traits as each team strives to be the top House. Recognizing students for such attributes reinforces essential qualities and increases students’ confidence in a low key yet effective manner. Being capable of connecting with students outside of the academic realm has had a tremendous impact on teacher-student interactions,” Clifton said.
RCA’s guidelines are designed to give schools a streamlined framework that can be applied to any type of learning environment. All of the resources are free, excluding the app, according to the RCA website. An app on mobile phones allows administrators and teachers to award house points, engage students and parents, build school-wide community, and establish global community.
For more information on the RCA Housing System, visit https://rcahousesystem.com/.