Don Clifton Strengths for Students Award
This new award recognizes colleges, universities and districts that enable students to learn what they naturally do best and apply their strengths to thrive in school and all areas of their lives. Educational leaders at these schools understand the importance of focusing on what's strong with students, not what's wrong.
By making strengths a way of life, these exceptional institutions help students turn their talents into strengths and foster greater academic achievement, engagement and wellbeing -- setting them up to succeed far beyond the classroom.
What started as a grassroots effort led by Kim Keefer, Director of Shucker Center for Leadership Development, has expanded into conversations across the entire Furman University campus. With eight Gallup-Certified Strengths coaches, a large group of strengths champions, and touchpoints in academic and student affairs, students, faculty, and staff are learning the value of CliftonStrengths for Students to create an engaged and thriving culture. The university's mission includes the Furman advantage -- the promise of an unparalleled education that combines classroom learning with real-world experiences and self-discovery. Strengths development was integrated to intersect with these outcomes. CliftonStrengths is used as a means of reflection to understand and build identity, process and learn from experiences, and aim talents toward a successful future.
Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools
Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools has integrated strengths with staff, students and parents in the district. As a Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award winner, CliftonStrengths helps them create an engaged work culture focused on achieving shared organizational outcomes -- first and foremost, the success of their students. Students in grades four through 12 use Strengths Explorer or CliftonStrengths for Students to learn their unique talents. Once they know their talent themes, they have their top talent themes listed near their name in the online student information system. Students form "Health Champion" teams in schools, and this year, they are integrating strengths into wellness sessions. Specifically, students share how to set and meet goals and leverage strengths to make success likely. Parents also take the strengths assessment and consider how to work with their own strengths and their child's strengths to support them in setting and meeting goals to thrive, not just survive in life. Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools has built an entire ecosystem connected by strengths.
Kansas State University
The goal of Kansas State University is to improve the quality of life for all through education, research and outreach. For the last 12 years, K-State has been utilizing Gallup's CliftonStrengths for Students assessment to help students identify their Top 5 strengths in order to increase student wellbeing and engagement. After piloting strengths in an Introduction to Leadership Concepts class, students reported that the concept of strengths mattered most to them among other leadership concepts explored in the class. Knowing their strengths gave them the confidence to exercise leadership across campus. Strengths have continued to be woven into life at K-State. In the Fall of 2019, K-State began focusing on strengths-based peer coaching sessions and offered sessions around wellbeing, talents and applying strengths. They are creating synergy across campus by using coaching to move from strengths identification to strengths development.
One of the key competencies at Purdue University is self-understanding, and CliftonStrengths for Students was a natural fit for the Leadership and Professional Development Initiative (funded by the generous donation of alum Roger C. Stewart). There are many touchpoints throughout campus, including in orientation, advising and inside the residence halls. In addition, self-awareness and reflection bookend a new program called Steps to Leaps, which includes strengths as a tool to build student resiliency and holistic wellbeing. Students struggling with transition or trying to decide on a major can meet with a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach in the Dean of Students Office and in a variety of departments across campus. Strengths help students form a foundational sense of self, build connection with others and understand the impact they can have by doing what they do best.
"Strengths for what?" is the question Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok knew Virginia Tech had to answer for CliftonStrengths for Students to have a meaningful and lasting effect on campus. By connecting strengths to the school's five aspirations for student learning, they've woven it into campus culture and made it a tool to help students answer difficult questions about who they are, who they want to be, and the unique way they can make a difference in the world. Over the last 11 years, thousands of students, faculty and staff have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment at Virginia Tech as a launching point for a life of service and other invaluable conversations about identity, values, meaning and purpose.