+School Collaborative Now Impacting 8,200 Students and Their Families in +Community of Eleven Public, Private, and Parochial Houston Schools
January 11, 2013 – HOUSTON – +Works® (pronounced Positive Works), a Houston-based, parent-driven, non-profit organization serving as a catalyst for positive community change on issues including bullying and other trending community concerns, today announced St. Mark’s Episcopal School as the eleventh school to join its expanding +School program. St. Mark’s is a private school community inside Houston’s 610 Loop serving 408 preschool through eighth grade students and their families.
With the addition of St. Mark’s, +Works’ innovative +School program now serves 8,200 students and their families through its unique collaborative of five public, four private, and two parochial schools in the Houston area. The program is well on its way to expanding to its stated maximum of thirteen +Schools this school year.
The 2012-13 +Works +Community of Schools includes:
Annunciation Orthodox School
Durham Elementary School (HISD)
Kolter Elementary School (HISD)
Mark Twain Elementary School (HISD)
Pershing Middle School (HISD)
Roberts Elementary School (HISD)
St. Mark’s Episcopal School
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School
St. Paul’s School
St. Michael Catholic School
The Awty International School
Schools in the +Works program participate in annual parent, student, and teacher surveys and form intra-school +Teams. The +Teams include parents, educators, and students who work together to creatively spark discussions about how to encourage positive, upstanding behavior in adults and children in their community. +Schools send representatives to monthly +Roundtable meetings. They display visual reminders in campus locations where negative behavior choices tend to happen. They also host and/or promote +Works’ series of +Talks, which are designed to foster constructive community conversation around trending issues of interest. The +Talks are free of charge and open to the entire Houston community.
Leaders Site Common Language and Positive Ways to Connect as Key Reasons for Joining
“St. Mark’s Episcopal School is truly a community engaged, so it is only natural that we would become part of the +School network. We expect +Works to be instrumental in creating a shared conversation with common language between home and school. This can only help students, parents, and schools better play our respective roles in the lives of our family and community,” said Garhett Wagers, Headmaster.
“What really strikes me about +Works is the component of community involvement. This is not solely a school program. It is one that involves the whole family on and off campus,” said Emily Brabo, Middle School Teacher.
“We are so happy that +Works has found a home in our community. This program gives our children and families some important tools to connect with each other on the playground, at home and out in the world,” said Carla Singer, St. Mark’s Parent Guild President.
+Works’ Grassroots Momentum Swift and Steady
“It is very exciting to see our programs’ growth remain steady as we move through this school year,” said Sarah Fisher, +Works Co-founder and CEO. “We continue to add dynamic school communities like St. Mark’s to our +School program because +Works’ innovative and organic approach continues to resonate with parents and educators.”
The +Works program began as an intense grassroots effort initiated in May 2010 by Houston mothers Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille and continues to get its oxygen from passionate parents, administrators, teachers, coaches, counselors, social workers, pediatricians, mental health practitioners, and other concerned citizens. +Works raises awareness of and breaks the frame on adult and student bullying and has broadened its vision to include other trending community concerns, like hypercompetitiveness and risky tween and teen behaviors. “We want to spark conversations on tough issues that keep adults in our neighborhoods up at night,” said Fisher. “Our organization has evolved. We want to support families, schools, and community stakeholders in their desire to raise resilient, productive, upstanding children together as a community,” said Morille. “We see our role as a catalyst for positive change.”
Organic Process Focuses on Positive Community Change — One Kitchen Table, One Classroom, at a Time
The +Works approach is a three-phase process. +Phase One focuses on cementing the fundamentals of the +Works mindset with all members of the community – parents, educators, and students. +Parenting and +Teaching Guides provide science-based information and tools to assist adults in finding a common language and platform upon which to discuss school community climate issues, and to encourage students to speak up for themselves and for others. +Teams work to creatively engage teachers, parents, and students in a discussion about how to create positive school community change.
+Phase Two focuses on customizing the +Works mindset to a school’s unique values, traditions, and culture. +Phase Three focuses on maintaining the +Works mindset within a school’s unique cultural context and ensuring that the newly established framework continues to evolve, stays fresh and relevant, and is sustainable over time.
“The way we connect with each other as parents, as educators, as coaches — as members of our community — matters,” said Fisher. “It matters to our kids because they learn how to manage power struggles and setbacks from us, the adults in their lives. When we learn to live more peacefully by taking positive action and by being upstanders in our homes, at work, and in our neighborhoods and schools, we can more authentically teach our children to do the same. We believe in our mothers’ hearts that positive community change is possible, one kitchen table and one classroom at a time.”
Co-Founders Fisher and Morille continue to work for +Works on a 100% pro bono basis. School communities interested in learning more about the +Works +School program should contact Sarah Fisher, +Works CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Fisher, Co-founder & CEO
Trish Morille, Co-founder & EVP