DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Strong, brave and kind. Those are words Ruskin Elementary School hopes students see when they look at themselves in the mirror.
“I love being around kids. I love helping kids reach their goals,” said Bryan Ertsgaard, Ruskin Elementary School principal.
This is Ertsgaard’s second year as principal at the school. He knows reaching those goals is as much about what happens inside the classroom as it is about what happens outside.
“One of the things we’ve learned along the way is that helping kids with their social and emotional needs is a key component of helping them reach their academic goals,” Ertsgaard said.
A community partner for Ruskin came up with the idea while working on a beautification project.
“They were putting in new plants, taking care of the jungle that had grown up in this area over the summer and they put in these signs,” Ertsgaard said.
Posts alternate with messages of “You are wonderful” and “I can.” They’re on full display as students walk into the building, setting the tone of the school’s culture.
“To show kids that we care about them as humans as people. We care about their growth as people,” Ertsgaard said.
The principal said each of their 500 students are cared for as individuals.
“They are valued by the adults in the community and the adults in the building,” Ertsgaard said.
The new plants in the garden will grow alongside with the students at Ruskin. Self-worth and self-esteem will surely bloom as well.
“It’s a fantastic place to come to work,” Ertsgaard said.
It’s also a fantastic reason to love Dayton.