This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Eric Lillis at Kingman Academy of Learning High School in Kingman, AZ. Nominator Erin Schreurs writes (lightly edited):

“Eric has been a champion for Renaissance and all of our activities and goals in every way, shape, and form. He started the “Bowl Me Over” award to recognize students and staffulty on our campus monthly. He has also helped with GPA cards, Positive Referral cards, and rallies. He makes sure to be visible in all of our schools, and makes it his mission to talk to as many students and staffulty members as possible on a daily basis. Eric wants everyone on our campus to feel important, valued, and loved, and fully supports and encourages all activities our Renaissance groups do to accomplish that goal. He is the main reason that our program is successful, and he truly believes in the mission of Renaissance and worked to create a strong and functional program. Eric is a full embodiment of what it means to be a Renaissance educator.”

How long have you been involved with Renaissance?

Ten years.

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?

Very difficult to narrow down to just one moment. I have so many amazing Renaissance memories over that past 10 years. My first Jostens Renaissance National Conference in 2012 in Orlando is way up there. But I think my favorite moment year after year is the Renaissance Senior Recognition Rally at the end of each school year at Kingman Academy High School. Each year, on the last day for Seniors, Renaissance honors our Senior class through a very entertaining lip sync competition, followed by a tear-jerking tribute video set to some inspirational music, and then topped off by the Senior Class leaving KAHS for the last time through two lines of Staffulty hugs and tears. Then, after the Senior class leaves, each grade level then moves to their “new” spot on the bleachers (8th Grade as well) and the rally continues even after the Seniors have left. This is such a powerful and awesome moment that our Seniors from years past still talk about it and our underclassmen cannot wait until it is their turn to participate and move to their new spot in the bleachers. You cannot leave the gym that day without being affected by the power of the moment and the emotions that come with it. It’s truly an amazing day!

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?

When I returned to Kingman Academy in 2013, the culture was not broken. But we were missing something. And Jostens Renaissance helped us find what we were missing. Of the 6 R’s, it was the recognition piece where we were coming up short. When Kingman Academy started consistently recognizing Staffulty and students throughout the school year, you could see a significant positive change in our school culture. We are privileged to have such strong Renaissance programs and amazing Renaissance leaders at both our Middle School (Judy Perrine) and our High School (Erin Schreurs). They make the 6 R’s a priority and something that we value at Kingman Academy of Learning each and every day. Just walking the halls and talking to students, you can feel the positive climate, and the powerful impact that Jostens Renaissance has made in our schools.

How has Renaissance affected you personally?

Personally, Renaissance has changed everything for me as an educator. For years, I was a high school assistant principal in charge of discipline. My mindset about kids was broken. All I wanted to do was catch kids doing things wrong and then couldn’t wait to dish out the consequence. Without Jostens Renaissance, there is a pretty good chance that I would still be that person. And an educator that really didn’t like his job. All of that changed in 2011, when I was introduced to the importance of student relationships and to Jostens Renaissance. It is no longer about what the kids are doing wrong, it is about celebrating the amazing with each kid and making sure that all of our students feel like they are part of our family. The Kingman Academy Family. #WeAreFamily

What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?

The best advice that I can give anyone just getting involved in Renaissance is to go all in! Don’t just stick your toe into the shallow end and ease into it. Go all in!! Do the research, involve your Staffulty and students, incorporate ways to consistently recognize students and Staffulty, do the rallies, attend the conferences, and reach out to other Renaissance schools for advice. Make it yours, but go all in. You won’t regret it and your school climate and culture will benefit from it. Guaranteed!

Mr. Lillis will receive a tote bag and a lapel pin to recognize his achievement.


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