(SPRINGFIELD, Ky.) – Four of the Washington County School District’s principals, Dr. Jennifer Miller, principal of Washington County Elementary School, Amanda Mattingly, principal of North Washington Elementary School, Malissa Hutchins, principal of Washington County High School and Chad Willis, principal of Commander Academy/Director of Pupil Personnel and one administrator, Jason Simpson, Assistant Superintendent/Director of Special Education/Director of Operations, recently attended the International Alliance for Invitational Education 2017 World Conference in Carlsbad, New Mexico. According to its website, the IAIE, which focuses on invitational education, is a not-for profit group of educators and professionals throughout the world dedicated to the development of positive school, work and home environments as well as opposed to those forces that demean and defeat human potential.

“One of the most fascinating aspects of the conference was the recognition of how ‘we are all in this together,’” says Miller. “The conference gave me an opportunity to discuss with other school personnel who already participate in invitation education, the five domains we need to constantly be focusing on: people, places, programs, policies and processes. We have information from our session to bring back to school and discuss with our staff which will be a benefit to all of our students and stakeholders.” Miller says she spent time talking with representatives from several school in New Mexico and two schools in Hong Kong.

Hutchins says she learned how using the elements of invitational education, which are care, optimism, respect, trust and intentionality, could benefit her school. “Invitational education is all encompassing for everybody and everything in our schools,” she said. “If we have these characteristics in place in our schools, students, parents, staff and community members are going to feel welcome in our schools and therefore, lead to a positive culture and climate. This contributes directly to student achievement. Our challenge as building administrators is juggling all of the demands that are placed upon us on a daily basis. Even with all of these demands, we must ensure that we have a set high expectations academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally. This positive mentality will spread throughout the building and have a positive impact for all. Students will want to come to school and perform academically, staff will enjoy coming to work and impact student achievement, and community members will become more active in the successes of the district.”