This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Principal Kelly Whittaker at Ottawa High School in Ottawa, Kansas. Nominator Jennifer Kane writes (lightly edited):

“Mrs. Whittaker has worked tirelessly over the past four years at OHS to help change the climate and culture in our building. She has been a true champion for the Renaissance Program by helping to include our Renaissance-created PRIDE acronym (Pursue Excellence, Respect Everyone, Improve Yourself and Others, Dare to Dream, Expect Greatness) into our district strategic plan; supporting and helping carry out our Commitment to Graduate initiative by buying class banners each year for the incoming freshmen to sign; and simply being a regular, visible servant leader in our building using her authentic, meaningful tagline, “I appreciate you!” Mrs. Whittaker regularly meets with a portion of the Renaissance Core Council to hear ideas and keep communication lines open. She also advocates for students to model leadership by presenting at building leadership meetings, Staffulty meetings, site council meetings, and school board meetings. Kelly knows her Staffulty and students by name and always finds way to support, encourage, and “appreciate” them! Mrs. Whittaker has also attended the last two years of JRVC and is looking forward to attending her first in-person JRNC in Orlando next summer! She is the epitome of building positive climate and culture in a building and supporting the 6 Rs of Jostens Renaissance!”

How long have you been involved with Renaissance?

This is technically my 6th year, having been involved with Renaissance, but 4th year at Ottawa High School.

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?

My favorite Renaissance moment is a toss-up between the first time I experienced a Renaissance Rally at Ottawa High School and our implementation of the Commitment to Graduate initiative. Both of these moments have and continue to play a large role in the total transformation of the culture and climate at Ottawa High School.

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?

Having Renaissance at Ottawa High School has completely transformed the culture and climate through our continued and consistent focus of the 5 R’s: Respect, Recognize, Reward, Reinforce equals Results! Renaissance also empowers our students to step up and become leaders of their building by providing students and staffulty with voice and choice. I’m amazed every day at all the creative ways our students choose to recognize one another through their efforts with our Renaissance Program. In addition, the implementation of quarterly Renaissance Rallies led by our sponsor and students allows our student body to come together as a Cyclone Family, laugh, and have fun while recognizing all the amazingness that occurs at our school.

How has Renaissance affected you personally?

Renaissance has totally transformed who I am as a leader. It provides the structure to guide students and staffulty through making your school building the best it can be. It also challenges me to not only celebrate our students but Staffulty too!

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

I would advise schools who are just getting started with Renaissance to start by exploring the unlimited amount of resources and ideas you can find on the Jostens Renaissance website and all over social media. In addition, I encourage school leaders to take the time to understand the impact Renaissance can make on your building and embrace the ideas that will begin flowing through your student leaders. So hold on tight because you’re about to experience an amazing ride!

Mrs. Whittaker will receive a tote bag and a lapel pin to recognize her achievement.

To nominate someone in your school for the National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month honor, click here


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