Walter Hill School knows that more than academics are needed to create successful citizens out of their elementary students. So, why not include those skills in their upper elementary counseling program and overall learning climate? With a visit to The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta to learn more about non-traditional learning, the birth of this local Amazing Shake annual competition was born. Walter Hill participates in many of The Ron Clark Academy ways of teaching and learning, and this facet of that program seemed to blend right into their expectations and the tools with which they wanted to equip their students.
The Amazing Shake program is implemented over the course of the school year beginning with a series of lessons conducted by school counselor Heather Eskridge and reinforced by visits from guest speakers who are professionals in our community. During these visits and lessons, students learn the basics of soft-skills: quality handshake, eye-contact, interview skills, phone conversation, business etiquette, resume writing, teamwork, work ethic, and overall strong interpersonal skills. Guest speakers from the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and organizations share real life applications of these skills and expose the students to careers in our community.
In addition, their 5th grade students receive a first-hand look at postsecondary campuses. Research shows that students who visit postsecondary options are more likely to enroll and complete certifications or degree requirements. The students toured TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) in Smyrna, along with Berry Field (Tennessee National Guard Base) in Nashville in the fall to learn about careers and opportunities available after high school. This spring, these students will also tour a college campus to round out the local postsecondary options. The students have discovered new career interests and learned more about the high school pathways that will connect them to these new interests, all working to inspire their students to dream big and gain access to the pathways that will make those dreams a reality.
In December of each year, Street Tuxedo and Amelia’s Closet partner with Walter Hill School to host a fashion show where students learn about proper business fashions. Students model professional outfits from these businesses. These students now know proper attire for interviews in various business situations and events, and they had a blast at the high energy fashion show!
In January, students are able to put their new skills to the test in a friendly Amazing Shake competition. Business professionals from the greater Murfreesboro area served as judges for challenges, which included the following stations: first impression, work the room, interview challenge, phone call challenge, group interview, persuasive speech, formal Chinese Interview, and customer service challenge. The top scoring students advanced to semi-final rounds.
Following the in-house rounds, the finalists are able to further polish their skills in challenges at real-world settings with business partners in Nashville. Students completed soft-skills challenges with the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, The Frist Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The top 5 students compete at GoNoodle in an interview and creative teamwork challenge. At the conclusion of the GoNoodle challenge, the overall winner is announced.
In February, the top two students, Riley Sims, Overall Winner for 2018 and De’Shawn Miller, Overall Runner-Up for 2018, attend the Amazing Shake National Competition at The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. Riley, in reflection of her involvement, states “this will help me in life because I used to be scared of strangers, but with the Amazing Shake, I became more confident and was able to (talk to strangers easily in the competition), and made it to the national competition!”
The National Amazing Shake is a 3-day competition consisting of case-scenario stations positioned around the school that every student must pass through while exercising etiquette, composure, and savoir-faire. During the weekend, top performers advance to the next level of challenges until there is one overall national champion! De’Shawn excelled in the debate challenge at the competition where he took a conservative stance on social media. Riley had high marks in the work the room challenge as well as the inspirational person challenge (speaking about her Grandmother Gigi).