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2022 Don Clifton Strengths for Students Award Winners

This 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.

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.

Meet the Winners

Denton Independent School District Logo

Denton Independent School District

Denton Independent School District, located about 25 miles north of Dallas and Fort Worth, encompasses 18 cities and communities. This unique and innovative district has an entire department dedicated to the purpose of engagement, including CliftonStrengths. Denton ISD integrates strengths with most of their 4,000+ full-time employees and students as early as fourth grade, including all students in grades five through 12. Their mission is to contribute to the flourishing of their students and staff by envisioning them as the strengths-minded future of the workforce. Some campuses even choose to participate in strengths-based parenting workshops, helping parents learn their strengths and how strengths can positively affect their communication and understanding of their children. Leaders at Denton ISD realized that, although they have a strong history and culture, growth and innovation are integral to continued success. Recognizing that engagement is the key to growth, Denton embraced CliftonStrengths as the way to achieve excellence. Denton ISD has embedded strengths into numerous staff developmental efforts. In the district's "Grow Your Own" program, Denton took 10 teachers whose objective was to enter administration and classified them as full-time administrative interns on an at-risk campus. In addition to extra training, compensation, and education, the candidates were required to undergo private strengths coaching with a strengths coordinator. Of the 10 candidates, two-thirds opted to receive additional strengths coaching because of the value they found in it. Additionally, Denton ISD instituted a strengths champions program so that every department and campus would have an individual who pursues the role of promoting and embedding strengths into the culture of their campus. These strengths champions attend workshops to learn more about strengths and to share their tactics and techniques with others.

Learn more. about the Denton Independent School District

University of Tennessee Logo

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee (UT) was founded in 1794 and is Tennessee's flagship university and premier public research institution. Nicknamed the Volunteers, UT has long sought to empower students to be successful in their own endeavors while also embodying the Volunteer spirit that compels them to improve the world around them. Coming from a strengths background, new Chancellor Donde Plowman saw that the language and mission of CliftonStrengths supported the Volunteer spirit. To help integrate CliftonStrengths, UT hired Amber Williams to be their first ever Vice Provost for Student Success. She quickly assembled a new team called the Vols Success Team aimed at providing every student with a team of coaches they could lean on for information, guidance and wellbeing. CliftonStrengths is integral to the Vols Success Team's work. Incoming students discover their strengths and can learn more about them with their Vol Success coaches. Additionally, roughly 200 faculty and staff have received strengths training through courses like Successful Strengths Coaching and Campus Champions. Fourteen staff members have also become Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches. UT's commitment to strengths extends to upper leadership as well, where Chancellor Plowman has invested in executive coaching for her cabinet members. Astonishingly, 97% of students at UT have taken their CliftonStrengths assessment and over 200 staff members received strengths training. The impact of strengths has been noticeable. Since the introduction of strengths to UT, retention has increased for the first time in many years, the GPA average for participants is higher than for nonparticipants and student wellbeing is higher. Moreover, staff at the UT says CliftonStrengths has helped the school turn from a deficit mindset to a positive one, where intentional strengths-based conversations occur daily throughout the campus.

Learn more.about the University of Tennessee

We're celebrating organizations that are making a difference in people's lives.

From work to education, Gallup's Exceptional Workplace Awards recognize organizations doing exceptional work transforming culture, improving engagement and putting strengths first.