Red Oak ISD officially became the first school district in Texas to be Energy Bus certified earlier this week.

On Aug. 13, Red Oak ISD faculty celebrated during a special convocation at the conclusion of the Energy Bus seminar. Co-founder of Energy Bus Schools Leadership Journey, Niki Spears, hosted the training. As a former principal and teacher, Spears shared her vision of a positive school culture based on shared leadership.

“A lot of times what happens out here if you’re a CEO, a superintendent, you have these big titles that limit you to what you can do,” shared Spears, standing on the Red Oak High School performing arts stage. “You have so many other talents to share that sometimes we get caught up in a job description. So today I want to invite you to put that aside and be your passion.”

The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey is a transformational, multiyear approach for schools to create and sustain a positive school culture and develop positive school leaders, according to the Energy Bus for Schools website. It also notes research shows that culture and leadership significantly influence a school’s "learning environment and students’ academics success."

After Red Oak ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard read the book, "Energy Bus," he met the author, Jon Gordon, back in 2015.

“I was inspired by him and the book and started using it in my leadership teams. The impact was tremendous and saw great results,” Goddard explained.

Before the Energy Bus transformation, the ROISD faculty had to take a look at themselves individually. Every single person was given "Energy Bus" to read — thanks to the Red Oak Education Foundation. Also, a kid’s version of “Energy Bus” was provided to each elementary classroom.

Once the staff finished the book, it allowed conversations around the district's “why” to emerge. It also provided a chance for individuals to take the 10 principles of the book and the 4 Talons of the district home and make it relevant.

Over the summer, faculty connected with the administration to share how “Energy Bus” made an impact in their family and personal journey.

“That already begins to set up for an amazing school year for our staff and students,” Goddard emphasized.

Those 10 principles of “Energy Bus” are:

1. You are the Driver of your Bus

2. Desire, vision and focus move your bus in the right direction

3. Fuel your ride with positive energy

4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead

5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus

6. Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus

7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride

8. Love your passengers

9. Drive with Purpose

10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

Goddard explained how the work of an educator is not simple, and the internal and external pressures to get students to the highest levels of success are daily.

“We needed something that could create a common bond and language to keep all encouraged and positive through the journey,” Goddard elaborated.

Energy Bus does just that and coincides with the 4 Talons — prepared, grit, character and service — perfectly, Goddard explained. The Energy Bus story focuses on the establishment of a positive mindset, which therefore feeds into a positive environment. Then, most importantly, it influences the students.

“Our goals are that we see less behavioral issues, less bullying, less negativity and doubt in students' speech and actions,” Goddard stressed. “This is a program that will allow the adults to model for our students what it means to live in a positive mindset and even when we struggle or met a difficult task to be able to overcome them.”

The Energy Bus model will provide guidelines and ground rules to encourage positive conversations and help bring that same attitude to the difficult ones as well. This is essential when the staff addresses topics that concern the success of the student. Also with the Energy Bus certification, the district will serve as a lighthouse for others as it sets an example of how to be a true “champion for the kids.”

With various motivational programs out there, Energy Bus was unique, Goddard explained. The program allows the faculty to help mold and shape the students into impactful community members. Goddard said the program and model is an appropriate fit since the foundation of the 4 Talons has now been established for a few years.

“The work we do is hard work. We see challenges and struggles each day with our kids and at varying levels from students trying to achieve at high levels, to students who are struggling to just make it. We have a much higher bar than just trying to help them make it through the ‘system’ per se,” Goddard elaborated.

Goddard also noted he looks forward to Energy Bus returning at the second half of the year to conclude training over the final five principles.

"Our hope is that it resonates with them and we see a strong district become an even stronger one through this process," he expressed.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450