‘Wooden’s Wisdom’ taught in  Breckenridge fourth grade classroom

Arly Ohm, fourth grade teacher at Breckenridge Elementary School, is the only teacher in the country who is introducing the Wooden on Leadership and Kids Success Club course to his students. These ground-breaking lessons on leadership are perfect for his young students. Ohm sincerely believes in the philosophy and uses it in his own life.

Students in Arly Ohm’s fourth grade class at Breckenridge Elementary School have been learning the values and characteristics of successful people. A special curriculum is being used, thanks to a grant from the Breckenridge Education Foundation, which teaches students the Pyramid of Success, designed by the late John R. Wooden, UCLA’s legendary men’s basketball coach.

Ohm said he’s always looked to Wooden as the example of how to live life, how to treat others and carry oneself.

“I met him. He was everything I believe in, the old school values,” Ohm said.

Wooden’s leadership values including enthusiasm, cooperation, loyalty, friendship and industriousness have been explored by Ohm’s students, who find ways to incorporate them into their daily lives.

“They’ve learned the Pyramid of Success and they take quizzes about each block,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see, from a fourth grader’s perspective, how it applies to their life.”

Ohm said the curriculum is only being used in his class this year, but he encourages higher grades to consider it.

“If I were a junior high principal, I’d have it,” he said.

Ohm’s class has learned more than just the building block level of the leadership pyramid, they’ve explored the entire system and are incorporating those values into all aspects of their lives.

“Poise is a big one,” Ohm said, explaining students are taught to control themselves and not be controlled by others.

“They learn about thinking before speaking,” he said. “A lot of kids speak, and after it’s over, they stop to think about it and that’s when they get in trouble. It’s the roller coaster ride of controlling your emotions, not getting too excited, not getting too down.”

Self-control is another block they’ve studied, which teaches people to be disciplined.

“Discipline yourself, that way nobody else has to,” Ohm said.

The company providing the curriculum asked Ohm if he would try a new program they offered called the Kids Success Club. It’s a four-step incentive program which teaches students to be successful, and focuses on the Pyramid of Success blocks, with activities and quizzes taken for each level.

“Of all the schools in the country, our fourth grade class is the first to use it,” Ohm said, of the Kids Success Club. “They wanted us to do some other things to help build on it.”

The elementary school has a Student Ambassador program, in which student leaders meet with an advisor every two weeks. Students in Ohm’s class who are also ambassadors bring what they’ve learned to the meetings. The school also is using the Olweus bullying prevention program, which ties in nicely with the Wooden program, Ohm explained.

“One of the things we talk about is where do we have the most problems? It’s not in our classrooms, it’s at recess and lunch, which is normal,” he said. “The students use what they learn here and apply them in those situations.”

Students have learned how to head off problems before they start, how to have team spirit and how to be a leaders.

“It’s pretty good to have 10-year-olds thinking about this,” he said.

Not only is the Wooden curriculum teaching students about the qualities of successful people, it’s building character in the process.

Ohm said his underlying message to students is to treat people with respect.

“Some students don’t treat their parents very respectfully,” Ohm confided. “Some kids think the only ones to respect are administrators and teachers. But it means everyone — other students, aides, cooks, it doesn’t matter. We should all work together. People are people, treat them respectfully.”

Ohm, who is very happy with the program and how quickly his students have taken to it, has kept his Wooden curriculum hush-hush from the rest of the school.

“Sometimes we try to do things and not always tell people,” he said, explaining his intent is not to blow his own horn, but to teach his students to do the work.

“It’s more my nature, to fly under the radar,” he said. “I’d rather just get the job done.”

He said former students will joke with him about other teachers’ rules compared to his.

“Everyone has had teachers who have the rules to be quiet, raise your hand,” he said. “But in my class, the rules have always been don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses. Do the best you can.”

Those rules are from Wooden’s “Two Sets of Threes,” which include don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t steal.

“I think that’s how classrooms should be run, that’s how we run our family,” he said. “Everything I do carries through, from home, to It’s the roller coaster ride of controlling your emotions, not getting too excited, not getting too down.”

Self-control is another block they’ve studied, which teaches people to be disciplined.

“Discipline yourself, that way nobody else has to,” Ohm said.

The company providing the curriculum asked Ohm if he would try a new program they offered called the Kids Success Club. It’s a four-step incentive program which teaches students to be successful, and focuses on the Pyramid of Success blocks, with activities and quizzes taken for each level.

“Of all the schools in the country, our fourth grade class is the first to use it,” Ohm said, of the Kids Success Club. “They wanted us to do some other things to help build on it.”

The elementary school has a Student Ambassador program, in which student leaders meet with an advisor every two weeks. Students in Ohm’s class who are also ambassadors bring what they’ve learned to the meetings. The school also is using the Olweus bullying prevention program, which ties in nicely with the Wooden program, Ohm explained.

“One of the things we talk about is where do we have the most problems? It’s not in our classrooms, it’s at recess and lunch, which is normal,” he said. “The students use what they learn here and apply them in those situations.”

Students have learned how to head off problems before they start, how to have team spirit and how to be a leaders.

“It’s pretty good to have 10-year-olds thinking about this,” he said.

Not only is the Wooden curriculum teaching students about the qualities of successful people, it’s building character in the process.

Ohm said his underlying message to students is to treat people with respect.

“Some students don’t treat their parents very respectfully,” Ohm confided. “Some kids think the only ones to respect are administrators and teachers. But it means everyone — other students, aides, cooks, it doesn’t matter. We should all work together. People are people, treat them respectfully.”

Ohm, who is very happy with the program and how quickly his students have taken to it, has kept his Wooden curriculum hush-hush from the rest of the school.

“Sometimes we try to do things and not always tell people,” he said, explaining his intent is not to blow his own horn, but to teach his students to do the work.

“It’s more my nature, to fly under the radar,” he said. “I’d rather just get the job done.”

He said former students will joke with him about other teachers’ rules compared to his.

“Everyone has had teachers who have the rules to be quiet, raise your hand,” he said. “But in my class, the rules have always been don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses. Do the best you can.”

Those rules are from Wooden’s “Two Sets of Threes,” which include don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t steal.

“I think that’s how classrooms should be run, that’s how we run our family,” he said. “Everything I do carries through, from home, to school, sports, things in the community, getting Wahpeton and Breckenridge to work together as one. It’s the same message.”

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