Orchard Park Panther Pillars
16Guidelines in practice
16Guidelines in practice

By Deborah Seigel and Susan Macaulay

Orchard Park Public School in Burlington, Ontario has 600 students in 23 classrooms and provides kindergarten and French classes for grades 1-8 and is “a caring and respectful community of lifelong learners.” Character education is very visible throughout the school. The mascot of the school is the panther. Here, Vice Principal Susan shares how she used 16 Guidelines.

With the full support of the Principal, Vice-Principal Susan has used the 16 Guidelines to enhance the spirit and energy of the school. This was done in combination with support material from Ready, Set, Happy and corresponding websites, along with loads of creativity to make it all happen.

At the beginning of the school year, we introduced 16 Panther Pillar Words inspired on the 16 Guidelines. We asked our staff to review the meaning of these 16 words with their class and then each class was asked to select the four words which best reflected the core values of our school. We share the belief that although we come to the front door of the school with unique and varied life experiences, when we cross the threshold of the school we unite as Panthers.

Introduction of the 16 Guidelines

The 16 Guidelines were introduced to the student body at a school assembly at the beginning of the year. 

All students were engaged to collectively vote on four qualities, one from each theme that best represent the core values of the school. For a period of approximately two months, teachers discussed each guideline and provided definitions and examples to help with the decision making process.  

The results, when tallied, were patience, honesty, respect and courage.  

Twice during the school year the pillars have been proudly portrayed on the school’s outdoor signage for all the community to view. Additionally, the school had a small budget that afforded the opportunity to print posters depicting the four values, as well as fridge magnets, pencils and host stickers.  

Ongoing 16 Guidelines projects

By the end of the 2014-15 school year we hope to have installed four permanent floor-to-ceiling pillars at 

a main entrance that will represent the Panther Pillars of patience, honesty, respect and courage. 

In addition, the halls will have street signs: Patience Place, Honesty Street, Respect Highway and Courage Avenue, for example. 

Some of the positive actions the staff and students are engaged in include: 

•During the month when a pillar is the focus, the morning announcements include a quote, a thought for the day and actions that can be taken to honour that particular pillar.   

•Stickers are handed out to students when they demonstrate by their actions any of the four pillars.

•When a student is sent to the office for an incident, the poster with the four core values is brought into the conversation and the student is asked what quality was missing and if present could have eliminated the situation. Patience and respect are noted most often.   

•V-P Macaulay was asked to speak to a French Immersion class to offer some direction as to how to incorporate the pillars into the game of soccer. Examples were given that demonstrated how patience, honesty, respect and courage will help the youth on the field and add to sportsmanlike conduct.  An assignment was also given to further deepen the application and understanding of their use.

•During the month when respect was the focus, students were asked to draw a picture of someone they respected and illustrate what the person does that makes them so special.  

•At the end of this school year, a graduating grade 8 student will be recognised for being a role model and exemplifying the four pillars.    

Each classroom has received a poster depicting these four words, and we will continue to undertake character education lessons to re-enforce the difference that these words can make to our school community when they cease to be mere words and become actions. 

For example, during the month of April our Panther Pillar of Focus was respect. Each day the morning announcers read a message about respect and ended the reading with the Panther Pillar Thought of the Day. We left the students with this call to action: show respect every moment of every day. They might do things like:

· Practice Random Acts of Respect

· Say “please” and “thank you” 

· Making a point of not teasing

· Encourage your friends to be respectful to others

· Be patient with yourself and others when a mistake is made

· Make an effort not to gossip 

By practicing RESPECT we will all help to make Orchard Park a safe place to learn and grow.

We talk about the 16 Guidelines all the time

One of the parents recently expressed: “Thank you so much! We framed the four pillars photo you gave us and it is hanging in our dining room. Thank you. You left quite an impression on my children. We talk about them all the time.”

For the 2015-16 school year there will be four assemblies with a focus on each pillar. A teacher and a student will be recognised for their commitment to that core value. 

Vice-Principal Susan has one more year at Orchard Park and will then move on to another school. She hopes that a strong foundation will be laid for the Panther Pillars in order for them to play a role in the culture of the school for years to come. Being a witness to the impact the 16 Guidelines have had she will always 

advocate for their implementation. In the future, if Susan decides to become a Principal of her own school, 

she will definitely incorporate on the 16 Guidelines into the fabric of the school.   

*It is also to be noted that the remaining 12 guidelines are used where and when they are applicable.