SCHOOL CULTURE TIPS: Wisdom from the Trenches


[semester equivalent = 1.33 credits]



Debora Supplitt



Here's your chance to enjoy and spend collaborative time viewing sessions with celebrity Gerry Brooks, an elementary school principal, and intervention specialist. Gerry's book and videos highlight his mocked back-woods Kentucky drawl that entertains K-12 teachers, administrators, and parents across the country. He delivers stories and jokes with the style of humor that school professionals easily relate to.

Gerry confesses that great teachers and distinguished schools do have bad days when the most solid lesson plans fall through, parents complain, kids act up and throw temper tantrums, and the "dreaded" yearly testing and assessments. This course is an excellent way to excite collaboration within any group grade level, professional learning community, staff-wide book study, or taken for self-enrichment. You will explore stories, self-assess, locate your site's mission and values statement, incorporate personal reflections, compare and contrast fun-filled tales and outcomes, and create a positive, mentally exciting and creative individual and school-wide climate.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Participants will:

  • Explored, recognized, and learned to identify what is a positive school climate and culture
  • Learned ways to foster an environment of mutual respect, responsibility, and accountability for staff and colleagues
  • Created activities to focus on an individual effective positive change
  • Recognize the need for positive communication to support culture and climate, and how to implement it effectively.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Brooks, G. (2019) Go See the Principal; True Tales from the School Trenches

Paperback: 208 pages $9.79, Kindle; $9.99, Audio/Audible $18.35 or one Audible credit.

Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (April 30, 2019)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0738285064

ISBN-13: 978-0738285061

None. All reading is online.





Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Getting to Know You

Write a 400-500 word response to the following questions.

Please introduce yourself (i.e. teaching assignment, location, level, etc.). Discuss why you chose this course?

  • What is your background?
  • Describe your previous experience, if any, with adding to your school culture.
  • Describe your classroom or home-based setting, what age or grade, and finally for what would like to integrate and develop your lessons and unit plan for.

Post on to the assignment response box.


Attached is a bibliography to refer to for the assignment video links. 

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Assignment #2: Read Part 1 & View Videos

Link to Gerry Brooks YouTube Channel:

Link to Gerry Brooks Facebook page:

Read: Go See the Principal; True Tales From the Trenches

  • Part 1: Before the Bell Rings: Setting Up Teachers, Parents and Administrators for a Great Year.
  • Introduction and pages 1-17

View:  Hey Kentucky! (2017) Lee Talks with Gerry Brooks YouTube 4:01 Accessed on February 25, 2020.
Brooks, Gerry (2016) Breaking the Ice with Teachers you Don't Know YouTube 1:19
Brooks, G. (2016) Improving Climate and Culture, YouTube 0:38  


Write a 1-2 page (300-500) word document identifying four to six (4-6) important ideas or concepts on how to improve your culture and climate for your setting.

  • What thoughts or ideas could be integrated to improve the general staff and new teachers at your site? 
  • Include other thoughts or ideas for culture and climate inclusion for your grade level and/or team.

Post or attach document to the response prompt box.

Assignment #3: Read: Part 2-4, View Videos


  • Part 2 Class is in Session: How Administrators and Parents Can Let Teachers Teach, pgs. 25-44



Read: Part 4:  Special: Other ways Kids Learn, pg. 61-9


Write a 1-2 page (300-500) word document discussing the first day of school, school lunchroom, allergies, social-emotional learning, technology, or any other topic of discussion and/or ideas based on the readings and/or videos.

Post or attach document to the response prompt box.


Assignment #4: Read Part 5-7, View Videos

Read Part 5:  The Principal's Office What Makes It Run and What Drives Us Crazy, pgs. 95-114.


Read Part 6: Notes Home Strengthening the Parent Connection, pgs. 115-128.


Read Part 7: Extra Curricular; Fun at School, pgs. 129-144.

In a short 1-2 page (300-500) word paper discuss your reflections of the videos you have viewed.

  • What are some key ideas you may have for fostering a positive learning environment for your class, site and/or setting?
  • Who would you like to build a positive relationship with on your staff?
  • When can you implement some of these ideas?
  • Discuss any other thoughts, ideas and/or reflections from the readings and viewings.

Post to the Assignment Review Prompt


Assignment #5: Read Part 8 & 9, View Videos, Mission Statement and Self-Assessment

Read: Part 8; Code of Conduct-For Grownups. pgs.144-160.

Find, locate, and write down; your school setting, site or classroom's "Mission Statement".  This could be located in the student handbook, parent handbook and/or on the schools website.


Read: Part 9; Extra Credit. Lessons for Life and School pgs. 161-166.


Read: Answer Key; Teachers Teaching Teachers pgs. 167-190.

Download and Take:  Self-Assessment on Culture and Climate (download file below). Include your classroom, sites and/or settings Mission Statement.


Create your own self-Assessment (minimum of 10 questions) on your climate and culture for yourself. Include your classroom, site and/or settings Mission Statement.

Download and print the Action Plan Template (download found below).

Write a 1-2 page (300-500 word) page paper outlining your reflections of the "Mission Statement" and how your personal self-assessment may tie into that mission statement.


Create an action plan of where, when, who, why, and/or how you can support your own personal climate and culture for yourself, grade level, setting and/or school site.

  • Include within your paper an overview of activities you might implement based on the readings from the 9 parts in the textbook
  • What possible positive benefits and/or results might occur based on your action plan for change?
  • Explain how a positive school culture and climate may be easily be adapted into the classroom, assigned subject area and/or setting

Post in the Assignment Response

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In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #6: Develop Culture and Climate Assessment

Create a lesson where students in your class or setting can generate a classroom individual self-assessment.

  • Students may need a guided session to understand and reflect upon personal ideas, thought and/or actions to show how they contribute to the culture and climate in their class, school, setting and/or community.


Implement your guided student lesson with your classroom, staff and/or community individuals.

Write a short 200-250 word document discussing the process and outcome from your lesson.

Include your lesson plan.

Post to the Assignment Prompt

Assignment #7: (500 Level ONLY) Develop a Presentation on Site “Culture and Climate”

In addition to the 400 level assignments, complete one of the following:

Option A)
Conduct online research for seven articles that point to the advantages of a positive school culture and climate and summarize your findings in a 2-3 page (600-750) paper.

Option B)
Prepare and present your unit of study from assignment #8 in a PowerPoint, Prezi, Spark, or Haiku Deck format to your faculty, collaborative group, or to a colleague. Accompany your presentation with a 2-3 page (600-750) paper, in which generated discussion, comments, adjustments, thoughts and, or ideas that may have been generated by your presentation to your faculty, collaborative group, colleagues or community.

Option C)
Another assignment of your own design with the instructor's prior approval.

Post in the online response box.


Assignment #8: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Debora Supplitt M.F.A-A.Ed./M.Ed. received her Masters (M.Ed.) and Bachelor of Art (B.A.) degree from San Francisco State University and Masters of Fine Arts in Art Education (M.F.A.-A.Ed,) from Boston University. She has worked with students of all levels, including preschool, elementary, middle school, high school and professional educators, since 1980. She is certified in Washington, Oregon and California in Pre/K-12-Adult Special and Elementary Education and is highly qualified in the core areas of Art, Music, Reading, and Special Education as well as being a trained Intervention Specialist. Debora knows the importance of providing a creative environment where all students and teachers can thrive. Presently she is working in her dream position as a full time middle school Art Teacher. Debora provides classroom teachers with the tools and resources needed to integrate art into the daily curriculum and is always busy developing new, creative and fun workshops for teachers. She is passionate about providing exciting, meaningful, useful and fun filled continuing education for all teachers.



SCHOOL CULTURE TIPS: Wisdom from the Trenches

Brooks, G. (2019). Go See the Principal True Tales from the School Trenches. De Capo Lifelong Books (sub) Hachette Books; New York, New York.

Carucci, R. (2020). Three Ways Senior Leaders Create A Toxic Culture. Harvard Business Review. Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Education Government (School Culture and Climate Assessments Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) (2014). Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Education World (2011). Book Study Groups: Why and How. Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Davenport, M. (2018) Building a Positive Staff Culture Takes Work. Edutopia. Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Gunn, J. (2018) Wow-Factor Schools: 8 Ways to Build an Awesome School Culture.  Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Wagner, C.R. (2006) The School Leader’s Tool for Assessing School Culture. Accessed on February 25, 2020.

Listed: Gerry Brooks Face Book, YouTube and Videos selected for course.

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