Florida Elementary School Wins Award for Process Improvement

Florida Elementary School Wins Award for Process Improvement

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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A Florida elementary school put Lean Six Sigma into practice in the classroom, a move that eventually led to winning an award for their successful efforts in cutting cut down on staff absenteeism. The school won the award after they started Green Belt training for staff members and created a district-wide team to address process improvement challenges.

Lehigh Elementary School in Fort Myers won the Florida Sterling Council’s 2019 Storybook Showcase Competition in Orlando. The Florida Sterling Council is a not-for-profit based in Tallahassee. The competition grants awards to successful improvement projects. Organizations compete for the award by putting together a “story” of their efforts that states the problem, the steps they took to correct it and the results.

Lehigh Elementary School Assistant Principal and Team Leader Jennifer Lusk told local media that what started as a learning opportunity for the school’s staff eventually became a way to make the school more efficient through a project called Absent Minded.

The Lehigh Team

Lehigh is the latest among many schools to use Lean Six Sigma for improvement projects. For example, the Racine Unified School District in Wisconsin applied Lean Six Sigma to improve its middle school enrollment process.

In Ohio, a small school district offered Lean Six Sigma training to high school juniors. At the college level, students at schools around the globe are putting process improvement to work, including solving healthcare issues.

In the case of Lehigh, Lusk assembled a team of teachers and administrators from around the school district. All of them participated in Green Belt training. The team then began to look at possible process improvement projects they could implement.

Lusk said, “We didn’t really know exactly how to get started. We took information from training.”

The team got an idea from what the district had experienced following Hurricane Irma, which hit their area during the 2017-2018 school year (in September 2017). During that year, staff absenteeism shot up.

Even though the hurricane hit in September 2017, absenteeism stayed high all year. The percentage of staff time absent was at least 9% every month of the school year, peaking at 12% in the last month of the school year, in May.

The team decided to focus their process improvement project on reducing the average percentage of time absent each month from 9% to 6.5%.

The Absent-Minded Project

The staff took the first step that all Lean and Six Sigma methodologies call for – gathering data on the operation. Using an open-ended survey, the team learned that many students were not trained in good hygiene, student illnesses were not caught in a timely manner and some staff did not know about the benefits of sick time banking.

All three had helped contribute to absenteeism and had nothing to do with the hurricane.

To combat this issue and improve overall wellness, the team decided to implement innovative programs and measures. They included:

  • The cafeteria manager creating a free fruit-infused water which staff had access to at any time, available at two water stations
  • Creating a school-wide hydration challenge to keep everyone mindful of staying hydrated
  • Designing new lunch trays for better portion control
  • Creating a School Run Club that participated in a 5K race put on by the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools
  • Creating the District Zombie Movement Challenge, which tracked steps and motivated staff to keep moving

Lusk said she saw teachers participate like never before. They came before school started and stayed late to, for example, get in extra steps in the Zombie Movement Challenge.

The project ended up exceeding expectations, decreasing staff absenteeism by 3,450-man hours. That saved the school $42,642 in substitute teacher costs. The school plans to expand the projects in its 2019-2020 school year.

“We are definitely on that continuous improvement model,” Lusk said.

The post Florida Elementary School Wins Award for Process Improvement appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

Original: https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/elementary-school-green-belt-award/
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Posted: August 27, 2019, 7:16 pm

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