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Central High School feels like a second home thanks to strong bond with teachers

At Tulsa Public Schools, we want all of our students to feel welcomed when they come to school. We believe in creating strong bonds and learning opportunities in a family-like atmosphere.

Central High School is taking this belief to the next level by fostering great relationships with teachers, staff, and students to create positive learning environments.

“I believe that positive relationships make everything else possible," said Central High School principal, Jason Gilley.

One approach he and the school are taking to grow strong relationships is by putting a new spin on a familiar concent. Instead of Back to School nights, Central High School created a Back to Community night where teachers and faculty load up in buses and visit their most populated student communities and speak with families about students needs and plans of growth.

Since the first Back to Community event in August 2018, Central faculty and teachers have committed themselves to visit every first Thursday of the month from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. The communities included are Osage Apartments, Morning Star Apartments, Sany Park and Cheyenne Park. The faculty and staff meet with families and leave business cards so they can be reached.

Central High School has also adopted a weekly student advisory plan period. This is time set aside for specific curriculum focusing on setting goals, empathy, and various social-emotional topics.

Principal Gilley said teachers appreciate this time because it allows them to be vulnerable with students and for students to do the same.

“When a person shows vulnerability it leads to trust,” he said.

These types of programs help students see that staff and teachers have their own issues and struggles but are willing to put them aside and do their best for the students.

Central High School has a few other programs that help foster great relationships, including Summit Learning, which is personalized learning for all students in the 7th-9th grades. Central also uses restorative practices, teaching students to resolve their issues with words. This method also helps decrease suspensions. They even encourage students to attend panels hosted by teachers and faculty, allowing the students to vocalize their concerns or present ideas that they believe will help them develop as students.

Principal Gilley believes building strong relationships with teachers and students will bring the best out of everyone. "I don't 100 percent agree with the old-school way of doing things. The concept of, 'You don't have to like me, but you will respect me,' no longer works. You will respect me, but I want you to like me in some ways. If you don't like me I won't be able to pull the best out of you," he said.

It's a concept students like Mycah Anderson believe in as well. "I feel student-faculty relationships have grown since the arrival of Principal Gilley. I have a great relationship with the majority of my teachers and it motivates me to attend school."

Senior Jael Tyes agrees, saying, "I feel like the relationship between Central's students and the staff is great. I like the fact that teachers make an effort to be close with students and create a family-like bond."

Central principal taking photo with students