Challenger Intermediate School Credits Capturing Kids’ Hearts in Receiving National Blue Ribbon Award for 2016

Challenger Intermediate School Credits Capturing Kids’ Hearts in Receiving National Blue Ribbon Award for 2016

By Flippen Group

8 years ago



goddardJess Herbig, principal of Challenger Intermediate School in Goddard, Kansas, has a lot to smile about after being named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Challenger is one of 329 U.S. schools nationwide and even overseas, and one of only four in the state of Kansas to receive this award for the current year. U.S. Secretary of Education John King commended award winners, “Together, you represent public and nonpublic, traditional, charter, and magnet schools in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Fort Benning, Georgia; Ramstein, Germany; and Seoul, Korea.”1

Principal Herbig is quick to give credit to the hard work and relationship-building by his students and staff after implementing Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes throughout the school. “It’s quite an award and quite exciting for our students and our staff…It’s one of the the things we’ve been able to do through the programs we’ve run with Capturing Kids’ Hearts…Our students work hard each and every day. They put forth their best effort, no matter what’s going on at home. I hope it allows others to know that what we were doing within the relationship building, within the ability to work with kids on a one-on-one basis, has an impact. And we can make that (impact) not just here in our district, but locally, as well as nationally.”2,3

Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes provide educators the skills they need to change the trajectory of students’ lives. Openness replaces defensiveness. Judging and feelings of being judged are replaced with acceptance and real connectedness to school. “Discipline problems nearly non-existent,” and “Academic achievement constantly improving,” are common feedback following implementation.

Although the awarded schools vary widely in their demographics, funding, learning styles, etc., the U.S. Department of Education website describes the consistent similarities. “Their leaders not only articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards, they stay close to the real action of teaching and learning. Mutual respect and trust run deep in their cultures. Faculty are supported by mentoring and professional development and have time to coordinate their work. Data from many sources drive adaptations to support every student. Families and educators work together in trust.”4

Once a school receives a Blue Ribbon award, the impact continues to grow exponentially, both within the school and throughout the community. Students and staff are re-energized and take extra pride in themselves and their work. Other results are increases in enrollment, financial assistance, community business partners, volunteers, and parent involvement. The schools become an example for others to emulate, receiving visits from other administrators seeking to observe leadership and instructional strategies first-hand. Principals and teachers are also invited to give presentations at regional and state-level conferences to share best practices.

Principal Herbig and a Challenger teacher, Angie Mullen, will attend the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 7th and 8th, 2016. Representatives from awarded schools attend presentations and small group discussions, as well as network with other administrators from across the United States. At a special awards luncheon, Program Director Aba Kumi presents each awardee with the National Blue Ribbon School flag and an engraved plaque.

To find out more about Capturing Kids’ Hearts, the process Challenger implemented, contact us at 1-800-316-4311 or


Flippen Group

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