Culture change


Florida’s Mariner Middle School Principal Richard Hagy and Guidance Counselor Kathy Saucier.

She’s only been at Florida’s Mariner Middle School for two years, but Guidance Counselor Kathy Saucier has partnered with Principal Richard Hagy to help transform school culture at this urban public institution.

Their broad-reaching “whole school” approach includes teaching students empathy for others—and enlisting students’ help in crafting messaging that can sensitize their peers. This year, Mariner students created a compelling social marketing campaign that included public service announcements and posters. It’s theme? Treating one another with kindness and acceptance, and taking a stand against bullying behavior.

Transforming the culture of your school takes collaboration, according to Richard Hagy, but the results are “well worth the effort.” That’s why this Florida principal has engaged not only his staff and students, but stakeholders throughout the community, to ensure that the culture at Mariner Middle School is one of kindness and acceptance. Integral are:

  • STUDENT INVOLVEMENT: Engaging youths in activities promoting sound decision-making and school safety is vital, since student attitudes and actions are key to campus culture.
  • ACADEMIC INVOLVEMENT: Weaving school-culture messages into law studies and other subjects helps integrate it throughout all facets of the school.
  • STAFF INVOLVEMENT: Empowering everyone, from coaches to custodians and cafeteria workers, to actively engage in improving school culture is critical.
  • COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Forging partnerships to engage every child-serving organization within the community is important. This includes pediatricians, dermatologists, dentists and other health-care practitioners who treat youths.


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