“Once again STC is the source of inspiration. Gotta love it.”
– Susan Work, President, Holy Family Ministries, reflecting on the May 15 Roundtable


On May 15, 2013, Polaris Charter Academy hosted Schools That Can Chicago for a roundtable on school culture. The event was created by Jennifer Husbands and Elliot Ransom of STC and attended by fifteen individuals representing seven schools.

Attendees began the morning by welcoming students to school with a handshake during the morning greeting. The next hour was dedicated to an in-depth overview of some of the key components and practices of Polaris’s approach to building a dynamic school culture. Central to Polaris’s approach are the Five Points of Polaris: Compassionate, Integrity, Explorer, Critical Thinker, and Active Citizen. Students who exemplify the Points can be nominated as a Light Leader and are honored with a special ceremony in front of the whole school. Students can be nominated for each of the five Points, thereby being recognized on five separate occasions.

Visitors were then joined by a panel of five Polaris students from grades 6 and 7 who provided a firsthand perspective on the culture of the school. Additionally, all of the students shared their individual stories of being recognized as a Light Leader, with one student describing the honor as “the best thing that ever happened to me.”

After hearing from the students, the other schools in attendance shared a brief description of a key culture building practice in their school. At the end of the day, each person in attendance walked away with some new tools and new ideas for building their school culture and thereby driving student achievement. Because, as one attendee noted, when it comes to the connection between culture and high achievement, “How can you have one without the other?”