Administrators at Hayes High School have authored a book about the school’s House system, and they are already working on another book about the school.
Principal Dr. Ric Stranges and Assistant Principal Rex Reeder recently published “Transforming the New American High School: Making ‘House’ Feel Like A Home,” a nonfiction book about the House system at Hayes. The system was created by Reeder years ago to create more community at the school by dividing the students into eight houses and bringing together students who traditionally have nothing in common.
“With schools getting bigger and bigger, we must offer more opportunities for activities that meet the needs of all students during the school day,” Reeder said. “House system has the potential to check this box.”
The system has been met with positive reception, and Stranges said he and Reeder have made presentations and given demonstrations of the system to educators across the county.
Those presentations motivated Stranges and Reeder to pen the book, which they started doing in 2020.
“We wrote this during the pandemic,” Stranges said. “We felt that it would be time well spent while we were sent home to do something like this to document (House).”
Stranges credited Hayes sophomore Coral Stewart, who published a book on Amazon last year, with helping them figure out how to finish and publish the book. Stranges said he hopes the book will be a useful tool for other educators looking to adopt the system.
“We wanted to document and share our journey as we’ve implemented, adapted, and instituted House here at Hayes,” Stranges said. “We have visits from schools … but when they leave here, we want to give them something tangible to take with them and use as a reference. (It has) not only the whys, but also the how-tos of how to transform your school.”
At 105 pages, Stranges said the book is “an easy read.”
“It’s honestly a quick reference,” he said. “It’s something we wanted to do to capture what we do at Hayes that makes us unique. We want to be able to share the success and trials and tribulations of implementing something very different at a high school. We have a tendency to forget details if you don’t document it.”
Stranges said he and Reeder are already working on their next book, which will focus on the school’s new mastery-based learning standard. Stranges and Reeder are writing the book in their spare time, and Stranges said he’s collaborating with other individuals to write four other books.
“I’m spurred on by the collaborative work,” Stranges said. “It’s neat to be able to sit down with colleagues or community members or business leaders to document our journey. It certainly has been an exercise in learning for me. If we don’t capture it, it’s going to be gone. I’m interested in these topics, and I’m hoping that the community is equally excited about it.”
Personally, Stranges said he is satisfied simply to write and get the stories and information out there, and he always admired his father for writing a book decades ago.
“I remember my dad wrote a book. … He was my hero,” Stranges said. “I don’t care if we sell one. I just like the fact that we’ve documented the journey that our staff has been on.”
The book is available on Amazon and can be found at https://a.co/d/8VaJaau.