By: Dr. Debbie Rhea, 2015
A lot has happened this year. We were able to identify a couple of major Foundations (eg. the Miles Foundation in Fort Worth) to fund the Liink project pilot intervention this spring and on into fall of 2015. We are continuing to seek federal funding, but until we do, it is so helpful to have Foundation support.
Part of the process to move the Liink Project into the schools is to allow school districts to see results and see how the project has faired so far in other schools. So last fall, we had administrators from the two interested public school districts in the Fort Worth area come and observe the Trinity Valley School in action (one of our initial pilot schools). They were so impressed. They noticed things like: children who were relaxed and happy, responsible walking in the halls to and from recess and other classes, short transitions, and attentive children in the classroom. The administrative representation from each school district was different but both teams were comprised of individuals who could make decisions to do or not do the project. Both school districts, by the end of the Fall, decided they wanted to do the project. That was great news! Just because they wanted to do the project didn’t mean it was a done deal. At that point, I had to construct an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)which is a contract between the two parties (school district and TCU) to protect both parties on each of their expected responsibilities. Both districts needed to take this project before their school boards in the spring. Both school boards approved the MOU between their district and the TCU Liink Project for three years with evaluations at the end of each year to make sure everything was going well.
So, who are the two school districts launching this Fall, 2015 with four recesses daily and three character development lessons weekly? Irving ISD and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD! We are so excited to have them join the Liink Project with grades K and 1. Irving ISD has three schools involved in the project: Brown, Gilbert, & Townsell Elementaries. Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD has identified Eagle Mountain Elementary as their Liink school. We now have completed three full day trainings with the administrators, teachers, intervention specialists, counselors, and physical education teachers from these four schools. The trainings were very successful and created a real excitement to begin the new schedules in the fall. So as of the first day of school in August for these four schools, all grade K and 1 students will be going to recess for 15 minutes two times in the morning and two times in the afternoon. When looking at each of the schedules, the time between recesses in a classroom is never greater than 70 minutes at a time.
Most intervention studies completed in schools take place over a 6-8 week period or maybe a semester. Many studies also try to help 3rd through 5th grade students with interventions such as this. The Liink Project is taking place in the grades K and 1 setting for the first year with a grade level added each year through 8th grade if the data continues to show positive results for the children. What’s exciting about this study is that each year we will add a new cohort of schools who are interested in seeing if the Liink Project will help their children be more productive in the classroom and in life. By the end of this next year, the Liink Project will have completed a full year in grades K & 1 in four public schools and grades K-3 in the two private schools. All in all, we will see the impact of this project on 1,280 students and 64 teachers across 6 schools in Liink’s 2nd year in the schools. In order to identify whether the effects of the findings are due to the intervention or something else, we will also have four matching control schools for each of the four intervention public schools. We already added control schools this year for the two private schools in Fort Worth. So we will be observing and collecting data this next year in 6 intervention schools and 6 control schools. We’re writing up the results now and will be submitting a manuscript in the next month for review. Once the data is published, we will send the link to the data. Just know, that what we are finding right now is off the chart!!! We are so excited with the positive changes that are happening in the children.
It’s time to change the environment for learning. The Liink Project is showing to be an awesome platform to create a successful learning environment for teachers to teach and children to learn. If you want to follow us on Facebook, please CLICK HERE.