The Fort Dodge Community School District board will recognize FDCSD students and staff every month for their accomplishments.
Starting with the board's Oct. 14 meeting and continuing the first meeting of each month, a student from each building level - elementary, middle school and senior high - as well as one district staff member will be honored by the board with a certificate.
According to Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, the award is for outstanding efforts or improvements, standing out academically or behaviorally, upholding Rachel's Challenge or "just being good citizens in the school."
"We're taking a look at once a month the board having an opportunity to recognize at least one student," Van Zyl said. "We're still working through the process, whether we're going to have an elementary student and a secondary student recognized. With 3,700 students, not every child will probably have the opportunity to be recognized, but we're looking for those students who have gone above and beyond and give them that pat on the back."
FDCSD teachers complete an application nominating an exceptional student, Van Zyl said, which is given to the board for consideration.
"Any staff member in the district, if they see a student doing something that's exemplary, they can have an opportunity to nominate those students for that recognition," he said.
It is important to let students and their parents know such efforts are appreciated, Van Zyl said.
"There's a lot of kids who probably don't get recognized for just doing the right things," he said. "Academics are very important to us, but this also incorporates just being a good person. If you're treating other people the right way, if you're going out of your way to do those random acts of kindness, our staff is looking for that, because those are the role models and examples we want in our school district."
Staff will also be recognized.
"It's not just about kids, it's about adults. Because we as adults need to be those role models for kids to see, as well," Van Zyl said. "We've got a lot of great things that go on in our district, and this is just another opportunity to let people know we've got a great staff and great students who are really trying to do what's best not only for themselves, but what's best for others."
Van Zyl advocates teaching positive behavior. In January, the FDCSD adopted Rachel's Challenge, a nationwide effort based on the writings of Columbine High School victim Rachel Joy Scott promoting "starting a chain reaction" of kindness. And Positive Behavior Intervention Support has been adopted by all district buildings and grade levels.
"We've got kids who are learning every day to become better academically, but also we're working with our staff to be focused on what does good instruction look like," Van Zyl said. "By combining good instruction and high expectations with behavior and how we treat each other, that's the type of environment where kids flourish, and that's really what we're looking to become."