Victoria Howard

Using House Systems to Cultivate a Culture of Thinking and Learning


During the summer of 2023, a group of teachers from Jackson Independent visited the Ron Clark Academy and was immediately impressed and inspired by the House System used at the Academy to promote a positive culture of thinking and learning everywhere we went. We knew the moment we left that we wanted to weave this into our school, but we needed a solid plan and financial support to guide this process. Fortunately, the Deeper Learning initiative emerged, with one of the four cornerstones of teaching and learning from the Thoughtful Classroom being to “Develop a Culture of Thinking and Learning.” This aligned perfectly with the House System and gave us the opportunity to enhance our culture of thinking and learning in our small, family-like school system, especially since we felt the culture had declined due to regional flooding, the COVID crisis, and more.

Overview & Objectives

The House System divides the school, both staff and students, into four Houses. We utilize a House Point system through an app, where staff members assign points to students for spirit, attendance, academic excellence, random acts of kindness, participation, positive behavior, competition, service, and more. An ongoing leaderboard is posted in the main hall outside of the office to show the total points per House. Throughout the year, we have House days where we dress up, cheer, welcome new students to Houses, and enjoy games, while supporting our Houses.


Since implementing the system, student enthusiasm has been exceptional. Students regularly cheer, and staff members dress in House colors. On House days, staff and students cheer both inside and outside the school, with everyone smiling, dancing, and generally excited.

We have observed a decline in absenteeism and an increase in enthusiasm. The leaderboard in the main hallway shows which Houses are leading, which changes frequently. Students are striving harder not only in academics, as seen in diagnostic testing, but also in behavior to earn House points. This sense of belonging uses competition to boost overall morale within the school.

Going Further

We have numerous exciting new ideas to implement next year. We also need to continue to think about how to get high school students more involved. Overall, this initiative has been a success!

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