By Christina Rice

Nodaway-Holt has implemented mixed-age, team time groups for the first time this year.

The teams are comprised of fourth, fifth and sixth grade students who meet every morning for 15 minutes.

Principal Rita Carroll said she wanted to start the program because she had heard good things about them from area schools with similar groups.

The focus of the teams is to help students make connections across grade levels by providing opportunities to be together. Staff hopes to instill a sense of belonging within small groups and help students develop relationships with each other and adults outside of their grade level.

To help members have a sense of belonging, each team created a team name, logo and poster. Some teams have even created secret handshakes and special greetings.

“Some students don’t have that sense of belonging. We want to meet that basic need,” Heidi Komorech, Title I math instructor, said. “It is 15 minutes every morning where we try to get them relaxed, smiling and moving around so they are ready to learn.”

The teams participate in a variety of team building activities and brain teasers and discuss current events.

Komorech said she has noticed the students in her team are more likely to talk to her and have started sharing accomplishments and celebrations. She said she hopes her relationships continue to grow so students will feel safe sharing their concerns.

“It is going very well. There is a difference in relationships,” Carroll said. “The kids are very excited and looking forward to it. It has been a positive change.”