• Spark logo - Igniting Positive School Climates

    A school’s climate can be simply defined as the “quality and character of school life” (National School Climate Council, 2007). This simple definition is underpinned by an array of intentional activities that support integral structures, such as trusting student and adult relationships, teaching and learning, the physical environment, and the safety of all school community members.

    At its core, a positive school climate includes:

      • positive relationships among and between all stakeholders (students, parents, all school personnel and community partners);
      • engaging, relevant academic and extracurricular activities for all students that meets their social, academic, and developmental needs;
      • meaningful family and community engagement;
      • training and resources to resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully;
      • support for students who are experiencing an emotional crisis, trauma, or serious challenges in their homes and communities;
      • clean and well-maintained campuses that support a sense of school pride;
      • orderly learning environments, allowing all stakeholders to feel physically and emotionally safe.

    These tenets of a positive school climate are reflected in several initiatives that are carried out across the School District of Manatee County under the umbrella of what we call Project Spark. Project Spark combines evidence-based prevention and early intervention strategies through systems such as our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), CHAMPs classroom management, The Neurosequential Model in Education, Threat Management, Youth Mental Health First Aid, SAVE Promise Clubs, and a focus on relationship-building using community-building circles. Through these and other Tier One initiatives, Project Spark aims to build a more positive school experience and increase engagement for all students.

    The Great Kindness Challenge


    Spark and CHAMPS Resource Pages

    Resources for Teachers

    Resources for Coaches and Behavior Teams

    For further resources and support regarding Spark or CHAMPS, please contact Dr. Skip Wilhoit at (941) 751-6550 x43270.


    The 2023 Summer Behavior Summit

    Almost 70 district CHAMPs coaches, deans, behavior specialists, social workers, and school-based staff spent three days adding to their behavior response toolbox. Renowned behavior scientists Dr. Paulie Gavoni and Anika Costa joined our district's own Darla Parry and Dr. Skip to deliver training focused on behavioral coaching, classroom management strategies, responding to classroom crises, and techniques for assisting students impacted by trauma.

    Better Conversations Presentation

    Time Chart