Of Houses and Hope: A Promising Fort Worth School Turnaround and the Closely Watched Policy Push Making It Happen

Fort Worth

As kids pass in the halls at Como Elementary, the undercurrent of joy about the school’s Harry Potter-style house system is palpable. Banners and other color-coded emblems on display at the Fort Worth, Texas, school identify the societies into which students and educators alike are organized.

Small faces light up when they see the coaches and administrators who are their adult housemates. Fists are bumped and, after a meeting where especially big accomplishments are celebrated, house logo T-shirts are shown off.

The multi-grade houses — philotimo, tolmao, ignosi and pistos, or honor, courage, knowledge and trust — get together once a week and celebrate wins. At the start of the year, the victories are typically small things that are important to building the school’s culture, like passing quietly from class to class. As the school year goes on, the effort needed to gain recognition rises.