Four people sitting around a table

Four Otsego schools have once again received the distinction of being chosen as National Showcase Schools for Capturing Kids’ Hearts, a national program that puts the focus on relationships first, an Otsego focus.  

In a Zoom call Friday with Capturing Kids’ Hearts (CKH) founder Flip Flippen and his staff, Otsego Middle School, Dix Street Elementary, Washington Street Elementary and Alamo Elementary learned they were  selected as Showcase Schools for 2023. This is the 4th year in a row for OMS and Dix Street to receive this honor, the 3rd year in a row for Washington Street and the 2nd year in a row for Alamo.  

“CKH has always held a special place in my heart so to be recognized as a national showcase school is quite an honor. Our staff embraces the concept and truly believes in relationships before rigor. CKH is not just something that we do, it is part of our everyday culture,” says Melissa Koenig, OMS Principal.  

The National Showcase Schools awards announcement states that “Capturing Kids’ Hearts recognizes and celebrates schools that go the extra mile each day, creating the social-emotional safety on school campuses that is conducive to learning.” This year, 468 schools received this honor.  

“CKH continues to provide our staff with a consistent model throughout the building/district that keeps the focus on building relationships,” says Dix Street Principal Mark VanderKlok. “Our continued success as a district rests on the shoulders of having a solid tier one social/emotional model for all staff and students. The individual student successes of feeling supported and cared for continues to be our motivation and is the best accolade we receive.”  

For more than a decade, Otsego Public Schools has partnered with Capturing Kids’ Hearts for professional development across the district with a goal of training all staff members in this relationships-first program. “Through experiential training, expert coaching, and personalized support, Capturing Kids' Hearts equips professionals in K-12 education to implement transformational processes focused on social-emotional wellbeing, relationship-driven culture, and student connectedness,” states the CKH National Showcase Schools announcement. CKH began in 1990 by Flip Flippen with one school and has grown to serve 37,000 educators.