|By Mark Nankivil|
school located within sight of the airport. Bob McDaniel, Airport Director for St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS), asked The Aero Experience to assist with a request from neighboring Cahokia School of Choice (located just south of the airport property) for an aerial photo of the students formed in the CSC initials of their school. With the help of Brian Landgraf, chief pilot and manager of Gateway Air Tours of downtown St. Louis, a flight in a Robinson R44 helicopter was arranged for me to take the photo on fairly short notice. The effort was well-coordinated between the airport and the school, and the aerial photo was taken as the helicopter arrived over the school yard minutes after takeoff.
Katie Goelz, a teacher at the school, explains the project as follows:
"I teach special education at Cahokia School of Choice. This is my fourth year teaching in the district, and second year at CSC. This year is my first year as co-internal PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) coach. PBIS is a district-wide program that focuses on positive behavior in school. As the co-coach, I help ensure the PBIS program is being implemented correctly and help improve the positive culture of the school.
This year CSC has adopted a new PBIS theme, 'Be the One.' This theme aligns with the book One by Kathryn Otoshi. We are encouraging students to "Be the One" - to do the right thing and follow our school rules: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe. Classroom teachers and the principal have read the book to each class and allowed time for reflection. On the day of the picture (October 2) students were given a 'Be the One' shirt. Students will be allowed to wear these shirts on Mondays to start the week on a positive note. The purpose of the picture was to demonstrate to the students that even though we are individuals, we also come together as 'one' school. Students, teachers, principal, secretary, playground aides, cafeteria workers, and custodial staff are all represented in the picture.
Goelz continues: As for reactions, I think everyone was pretty amazed! We are a K-8 building and have many new students this year. The principal noted that students new to the building felt included and now understand their importance in the school...Since each grade level was given a different color shirt, there is a lot pride in the different grade levels. Older students have stepped up to lead by example. The younger students are simply amazed to be part of something so big (and that a helicopter and fire engine visited the school on the same day!). The staff, including myself, are impressed with the positive culture the activity created. It is often difficult to find time to do school wide activities, and this one was certainly a success. Students were incredibly well behaved, staff was positive, and as a result we have demonstrated that Cahokia School of Choice is the 'One.'
C – Character
H – High Expectations
O – Opportunities
I – Inspiration
E – Exploration
The results of this activity will be felt for a long time to come. The images of the students and staff arranged in the CSC formation will continue to be used on positive communication materials sent home to parents, as well as in fundraising campaigns to expand the PBIS program at the school. The photos will also be displayed in the school building to remind everyone that they are entering a positive and nurturing environment.
The Aero Experience expresses our thanks and good wishes to the Cahokia School of Choice, and a very special "Thanks" to everyone involved for making this a successful effort!