Inviting School Success

Kitty Ward Elementary School

Kitty Ward Elementary School practices a concept called "Invitational Learning." Developed by Dr. William Purkey, the framework emphasizes intentional creation of the conditions necessary for all school stakeholders to recognize and fulfill their potential. A basic tenet of this theory is that everything that happens within a school sends a positive or negative message; nothing in between. Therefore, schools must maximize the positive messages and minimize the negative ones.

These messages occur within five domains, or the "Five Ps of Success:" People, Places, Policies, Programs, and Processes. By creating inviting conditions within these domains, a school maximizes its ability to harness the potential of all those within in it.

Take a look at the videos below to see what the "Five Ps" look like in action at Kitty Ward Elementary School.


The administration at Kitty Ward "leads with love" and sets the expectation that all staff members will do so as well. Teachers begin each day by inviting students into their classrooms (as opposed to waiting for their students to arrive). The administration is constantly interacting with students and teachers by walking the halls and visiting classrooms. There are numerous ways for parents to be involved at the school, and a robust network of parent volunteers help supplement the instruction students are receiving in classrooms. Ultimately, all stakeholders – students, staff, and parents – have a voice in what goes on at Kitty Ward.


When you walk through the halls at Kitty Ward, you can feel a sense of warmth, engagement, and high expectations manifested through the physical environment. Hallways are full of intricately decorated "Academic Walls" showcasing student work. The theme of "Oh the Places You'll Go" is showcased throughout the school, reminding students of their limitless potential. Teachers' classrooms are designed to maximize student learning and make students feel at home in the school. The entire school is designed to create a sense of community.


The policies at Kitty Ward are designed to be collaborative, transparent, and inviting.


A central guiding principle of the administration's approach to academic programming is that when you make changes, you can't just make them one classroom at a time. When an innovative change comes along that positively impacts student achievement, they move quickly to implement it school-wide. The administration also attends the same trainings that teachers attend. By staying aware of the professional development teachers receive, administrators can follow through with the implementation of strategies in classrooms. This approach also shows teachers that administrators value the time and work they put into developing their practice. Academics are one component of programs at a school, but this category also includes extracurricular activities, of which Kitty Ward has plenty. All school programming is designed to meet the goal of educating "the whole child."


Processes are the thread that connect the other four domains – essentially, how the school operates as a whole. Kitty Ward has numerous processes in place that facilitate inviting practices. For example, students are taught to use accountable talk to enhance their ability to use academic dialogue and have productive and friendly conversations with each other. Positive recognition of staff and students is engrained into the culture of the school. Teachers submit the name of a student who went above and beyond each week, and the Assistant Principal calls the family of every student name submitted. Teachers are recognized during every Site-Based Collaboration Time. Processes are designed so that every person contributing to a child's success at Kitty Ward are constantly recognized for their importance and value in that child's life.


Visit the International Alliance for Invitational Education website for more information and plentiful resources.

Thoughts for SOTs

If your SOT is interested in learning more about how Invitational Learning could benefit your school, a suggested starting point is Dr. William Purkey's short introduction to the practice found here. After reading, think about what your school's "blue" and "orange" cards would be. Discuss with your team members. Think about:

  • What is the impact of your school's blue cards on overall school climate and culture? What about the orange cards?
  • What can your school do to minimize orange cards and maximize blue cards? Get specific. Think about one area in which you can start and develop a plan from there.