Remember what it was like growing up without cell phones and you had to actually carry on a conversation with someone? There was no auto-correct, no emojis to show emotions, no GIFs to help bring comedic relief to the conversation. It was good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations that consisted of timid voices, sweaty palms, and knocking knees. Those were the days!
Technology, in a sense, has taken that away making it easier for us to communicate with people without showing some of those embarrassing and nerve-racking traits. Despite this, Kate Olsson, a counselor at Oak Point Elementary in Little Elm ISD is on a mission to revive the basics.
Olsson aims to instill leadership skills, discipline, respect, and professionalism in the students she serves. And she’s doing that through The Amazing Shake, a program she discovered at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. Renowned for creating a dynamic learning environment promoting academic excellence and leadership, RCA’s influence extends to Oak Point and Hackberry Elementary and Walker Middle School campuses, which have adopted a version of the RCA house system.
Oak Point led the change by hosting the first “Amazing Shake” competition in the District. In January, 22 students from their house council faced 22 different scenarios unknown to them where their leadership skills were challenged. Scenarios ranged from dealing with upset customers to job interviews with corporate professionals. Each student’s performance was evaluated based on their hand shake, composure, confident interaction with adults, and adept handling of situations. Principal Kori Werth said it was fun to watch her students compete. “They were presented situations that took them out of their comfort zone that they don’t necessarily get to experience in the classroom, but will be used later in life.”
After the initial scenarios, 10 students were eliminated and the top 12 moved on to the “work the room” challenge. There, they had to approach adults and professionals in the room, use their hand-shaking skills and carry on meaningful conversations.
While not advancing, Caden appreciated the experience. “I learned I have incredible people skills and I am really good at talking to adults. I am happy I got to do this so I can keep learning even if it’s not the results I wanted.”
The final six moved into the formal dining experience with Superintendent Mike Lamb and Oak Point Mayor Dena Meek to be judged on how they handled themselves at the dinner table with a nice meal.
“I think it is important to invest in our next generation of leaders. It’s not about winning but learning how to reflect based on the feedback you receive that will make them better,” said Olsson.
Here are the final results:
1st place: Sarah Caceres
2nd place: Estela Perez
3rd place: Xilome Ortiz
4th place: Parker Bowerman Bell
5th place: Isla Airapatov
Originally, the top four would advance on, but because of a 4th and 5th place tie, five students will be traveling to Atlanta to represent Little Elm ISD at the RCA Amazing Shake Competition in March.
- Oak Point Elementary