Mishawaka principal named a national ‘Principal of the Year’

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:18 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - A local school principal is receiving national praise for his passion and dynamic teaching style. Ben Domonkos was named “Principal of the Year” by Whole Brain Teaching.

“He’s a rare breed and easily the best principal this year that we’ve worked with,” remarked Chris Biffle, founder of Whole Brain Teaching.

Whole Brain is a teaching style in which teachers try to design lessons that engage the whole brain of a student. They illustrate concepts using movement and different vocal pitches so that students can build upon what they learn more effectively and readily apply these lessons.

“You can’t take away that motion, that memory,” said Domonkos, “whereas come testing time, we might have to take down some of the prompts kids are used to using. But we’re engaging their brain to be that prompt.”

Another facet of Whole Brain includes teaching students about a specific group of virtues to help build their character: Glorious Kindness; Positive Leadership; Selfless Courage; Invincible Grit; and Brainy Creativity.

“At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here: to make kids the best that they can be,” Domonkos said.

To motivate kids to be their personal best, the Whole Brain method is modeled after a video game rewards system. All classrooms at LaSalle have a Super Improver wall chart. In order to move up a level, students have to earn a certain amount of stars. It’s not a competition against other students, however. The video game concept is based on children’s love for challenges.

“No kid ever goes to a video game store that they buy a game where kids, ‘Hey, I beat it in the first night,’” said Domonkos. “They don’t want that. You want to lose. You want to fail. You want to keep working. And really, teaching them that grit is super important.”

Domonkos said he was honored to receive the national award but can’t take sole credit.

“To me, it’s really a team award because our teachers have embraced us and really moved us in the next direction,” he said.

LaSalle Elementary is the first Mishawaka school to implement Whole Brain Teaching building-wide. Other district teachers use the method, too.

Copyright 2020 WNDU. All rights reserved.

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