Monday, August 22, 2016

Exec Leadership

Nacona was recently given the distinct honor of being a Lifetime Executive Knight, an honor that few Woodward Academy students receive. But what does this mean? On the surface, it means that he is one of only 8 students to have received this honor since 2012 when the title was first introduced. The process to become a Lifetime Exec is not concrete and does not include a checklist of skills that can be marked off. Each recipient was chosen because they stood above the rest of the student population. The vagueness and ambiguity of this honor is what makes it special and distinct, and that much more meaningful to each Knight who receives it.

Each Lifetime Exec started the same way on campus: as a new peer who didn't have a full understanding of the Woodward Academy way. Over the course of their stay on campus, they picked up on the student culture, learned from their student leaders, and formed their own leadership style. All of these Execs took on a mentoring role on their dorms, and spoke their mind and offered feedback to other student leaders (some who they may have befriended). They had to be the bearer of bad news at times, but were also the beneficiary of Knights privileges. Their role shifted with the pulse of campus, but they knew that and always accepted the challenge because it was in them to lead… and they embraced it.

The honor is a reflection of what they did on campus. I would be remiss to say that receiving the Lifetime Executive Knight honor is a guarantee for success. It is not. As a school, we equipped these students to distinguish themselves as leaders amongst their peers, and then they leave and put into practice what they have learned. Some check in periodically to offer updates on how they are doing. One is entering his junior year at college on the east coast, doing exceptionally well. Another I had the benefit of running into at Target of all places. As we were both getting household essentials, we locked eyes at the same time, but he was the first to draw his hand for a gentleman's handshake. We exchanged pleasantries, he introduced me to his girlfriend, and assured me he was doing well. He was getting stuff for his apartment. After two minutes, we parted ways and I left knowing he was still a Knight inside. It should not have surprised me, he is a Lifetime Executive Knight after all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Knight's Mind Training // Video

A significant number of students at Woodward Academy have been identified as having high levels of emotional and behavioral dysregulation. This refers to the emotional and behavioral responses that fall outside of the accepted social norms. This results in entrenched patterns of maladaptive and anti-social behavior. Severe and explosive anger, physical, verbal, and sexual aggression, opposition and defiance, anxiety, and depression / suicidality are all indicators of this dysregulation. The disruptive behaviors of these types of students present an ongoing challenge and frustration.
The current gold-standard of care and treatment for this is an approach known as dialectical behavior therapy. By incorporating this approach while also drawing upon other frameworks such as acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, somatic experiencing, and interpersonal neurobiology, the Knight’s Mind Training (KMT) program represents an array of evidence-based interventions which have been shown to be very effective in groups with teens.
That is a very clinical explanation for KMT that also requires a practical application. So what is Knight’s Mind Training? Chris Johnson, the Clinical Therapist behind the KMT program explains that “just as we do PT (physical training), we must also train our minds,” and every day is training day. As a huge advocate for mindfulness training, he believes that every person, not just students, would benefit from this program.
Our bodies carry stress and we start to feel overwhelmed in certain situations. Then our minds start to say ‘I don’t like this feeling’ and we begin assigning reasons for why we feel that way. “I’m overwhelmed, I can’t handle it. I’m overwhelmed, it’s that person’s fault. I’m overwhelmed, I’m so awful. And all of these stories are heaping more suffering and pain on top of the pain that is already there.” KMT helps individuals “pay attention to the present moment... without judgement” so that they can have a clear mind with what is right in front of them.

Chris Johnson, MS - Clinical Therapist
With 15 years of experience in the counseling field, Chris has developed a unique way to reach adolescents in Knight’s Mind Training. With a degree in Psychology from Central College, a Masters of Mental Health Counseling degree from Drake University, and having been a Knight for 6 years, he developed this curriculum in 2013. His own mindfulness studies include practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and working toward a certificate in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Teens. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Woodward Youth Corporation (WYC) President: Aaron Peterson

When Jerry Anderson made the difficult decision to retire as WYC President, the search was on for his replacement. Starting July 6th, Aaron Peterson became the person that has the responsibility to fill those big shoes. As a native of Madrid, Iowa, Aaron attended Coe College where he ran track and played football, earning his degree in Business Administration and Sports Management in 1994.

This first exposure to Woodward Academy was in 2005 when he agreed to be one of four initial members of the mentor program. He worked with students, offering advice on the importance of having a good work ethic, and helped them develop life skills such as budgeting. Aaron is currently the President of Lonewolf Financial, a company that he founded 11 years ago. He’s been married to his wife Jodi for 16 years, and together they have two children.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Presidential Blueprint // The Legacy of Jerry Anderson

This story was originally published in Volume 38 of the Knightly Knews that you can download here.

More than any other person, Jerry Anderson has built Woodward Academy into what it is today. He has been here from the beginning. Literally. On July 10, 1995, when Woodward Academy opened its door to its first four students, Jerry was one of the original 13 staff members. Twenty one years later, on July 5, 2016, he stepped down as President of the Woodward Youth Corporation (WYC), leaving a legacy in tact that is comparable to none.
When our students walk through one of the four school buildings, they can thank Jerry. Our football team competes at their renovated stadium on Friday nights thanks to Jerry. Our baseball team runs the bases at Knights Field, and our students have jobs with Knights on the Move because of Jerry. Today, Woodward Academy has 262 students on campus and is a known industry leader… thanks to Jerry.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Knightly Knews Vol. 38 is now online!

The latest edition of our award-winning publication, the Knightly Knews, is now online and you can access it by clicking here. As a .pdf document, you can view or download the quarterly publication to your computer, iPad, or smartphone for easy reading. This Presidential Blueprint edition includes:
- Become a Woodward Academy Knight
- How Jerry Anderson built Woodward Academy
- Class of 2016 Commencement Ceremony
- Open House
- 7th Annual Knight's Scholarship Golf Outing
- Track and Field Season Recap
- Knight's Mind Training
- New WYC President
- Communication Awards

We hope you have a chance to check it out and enjoy the read.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

NSPRA Communications Awards 2016

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) recently announced their 2016 award winners and Woodward Academy earned honors in all three categories in which we submitted. The Golden Achievement Award was given to our comprehensive communications program. Our submission was judged based on the four steps of a public relations program: 1) analysis of the need; 2) planning to meet the need; 3) execution and communication of the program; and 4) formal evaluation. Woodward Academy was one of only 90 schools / districts across the United States to receive this recognition, and one of only two in the State of Iowa. Click here to see the entire list of winners.

Publication and Electronic Media awards were also handed out that recognize individual projects in 23 different categories. This year, we submitted in two categories and earned an Award of Merit of our 2015 film We Own the Knight: A High School Basketball Documentary Film and an Award of Honorable Mention in the Special Purpose Publication category for our Why Woodward Academy? Let Us Tell You 2015 Guide.

We feel proud and honored to have been given the opportunity to tell amazing Woodward Academy stories over the past year, and that those efforts have been recognized at the state and national level. These awards mark the end of this year's campaign, and the beginning of next year's push for great content. Below is a recap of our 2016 awards season:

Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA)
     Print Newsletter - Knightly Knews – Blue & Gold Award
     Photography - State Basketball – Blue & Gold Award
     Video - I Am Building video series - Blue & Gold Award
     Social Media – Facebook Page - Award of Achievement

National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)
     Comprehensive Plan - Golden Achievement Award
     Video – We Own the Knight DocumentaryAward of Merit
     Special Purpose Publication – 2015 Guide – Award of Honorable Mention

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

7th Annual Knights Scholarship Golf Outing

In it’s seventh consecutive year, the Knight’s Scholarship Golf Out benefiting the Woodward Academy Lifetime Commitment Fund took place at Beaver Creek Golf Course in Grimes, Iowa on June 24. This year, 79 golfers attended the four-person best-ball tournament that raised $2,500 money for Woodward Academy alumni as they move onto the next stage of their life. In the seven years that this tournament has taken place, over $39,000 has been raised, all of which has gone toward helping WA students. Whether it is college tuition, books, apartment
furnishings, or helping a past student with travel expenses to compete at the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships, the tournament has made a significant impact on students lives and will continue to do so for years to come. A special thank you to the 27 generous sponsors who helped make this year's event a success.