Mars superintendent says he wants to build creativity, kindness

September 11, 2019 Cranberry Local News

Mars Area Superintendent Wes Shipley will be using Legos as an example of promoting connectivity, creativity and kindness during this school year.

ADAMS TWP — Mars Area School District Superintendent Wes Shipley said he is implementing a new visual for promoting connectivity, creativity and kindness in school.

“With the theme of construction happening this year, I started to think about Legos,” Shipley said last week.

Legos, Shipley said, can be dangerous and useless if they're separated.

“But if you happen to have several Legos ... you can build as much as your imagination allows you to,” Shipley said. “A Lego has to be connected to something else before it has value.”

Shipley said the district will be working harder to connect teachers to students, students to students, and students to curriculum. It's also going to start using #webuildtheirfutures as this year's theme.

Teachers received a Lego last week to keep on their desks as students return to school.

“That (way) they'll always be thinking about those connections they need to make,” Shipley said.

Mars Area also is continuing it Rachel's Challenge campaign.

Rachel's Challenge is a national nonprofit organization working to reduce violence in schools by creating “chain reactions” of good behavior. The district joined Rachel's Challenge in 2018.

Assistant Superintendent Elizabeth McMahon said the district will be adding to efforts made last year.

“We're moving into schoolwide positive behavior,” McMahon said.

This includes creating a standard district “terminology” to help students at all levels understand the challenge.

“It's not one and done and over,” McMahon said, referencing last year's program.

The district's corresponding Friends of Rachel Clubs still will be operating in the Mars Area high, middle and Centennial schools.

Shirts saying #bethekindkid will be available for teachers and students. Students will be building chains throughout the year documenting “intentional acts of kindness.”

“Rachel's Challenge is not over,” McMahon said. “It's just moving in a different direction with us.”