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Plant City Observer Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 2 months ago

May the best house win

Positive behavior is currency at Jackson Elementary. Each day students can earn or lose points for their designated houses in an attempt to win a special prize at the end of the year.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Jackson Elementary School is relying on innovative techniques and a new program to foster a community of positive behavior and collaboration.

India Somerville, Kristin Truman and Robin Farkas are the members of the student services team that brought the vision to life. The program was rolled out in a special pep rally held the Friday the students started the new year at Jackson.

“The kids were coming back to school on a Friday so we wanted to see what the best way would be to get them excited about the school year,” Truman said. “So we rewrote the lyrics to (Drake’s) “In My Feelings” to kind of get them excited and looking forward to their next year at school.”

While the teachers belted out the school-themed lyrics many of the kids joined them in the

Jackson Elementary is starting off the new year with a new incentive program that is sure to help positive behavior thrive on campus.

#InMyFeelingsChallenge and started to show their moves on the dance floor. During the pep rally, every single student was sorted into one of four sport related houses. Acting much like the houses in Harry Potter, the kids can earn points for their house with positive behavior and have points taken away if they misbehave.

Each house has a variety of age groups, allowing older students to step up and mentor the younger classmates to help their team win the competition at the end of the year. It fosters a level of companionship rarely seen in elementary schools.

Jackson has always been a positive behavior school, however, this is the first time a program of this scale has ever come to fruition. Principal Michelle McClellan and vice principal Charlena Boudreau said the innovate technique was created largely in part due to the new student services team’s efforts. Their dedication to advancing the educational experience at Jackson has set the stage for years worth of evolving behavioral success.

At the end of each nine-week period, the winning team will receive an incentive. At the end of the year, the overall winner will receive a “special, big event” for their hard work. That could look like anything from a glow party or magic show to an exclusive party or festival.

There are also certain areas of campus designated to earning special points if students are seen picking up trash or helping keep the area tidy. Everything from overall behavior to attendance can rack up points for each house. Teachers send their list of points given out to Truman, who will keep track of all of the positive and negative allotments via an excel spreadsheet and the ongoing scale of where each house falls will be announced during the morning show.

Truman said having this type of structure in place “absolutely helps the kids.” The ongoing tally of success and failures for the groups encourages their natural competitiveness, keeps them accountable and helps them learn to work as a team and strategize to excel over their fellow classmates.

“It’s not super easy, everything our kids go through, so this gives them a really positive experience and ties it to education so they have that, I would say experience and advantage, because it’s 2018 and we’ve got to keep these kids engaged,” Farkas said.

The program also is a way to create a tighter-knit community at Jackson. This system isn’t in place simply as a punishment and reward program between teachers and their pupils. The entire school is on board. Any of the 75 staff or faculty that sees a student excel or going above or beyond can allot points. The teachers are also sorted into the houses along with their class, so they can push this extra dose of school spirit and get in on the fun.

Each class will have the opportunity to earn an average of 30 points each day. The long-established J-Buck program is also still in place as a separate, but equally adored incentive program. Kids can earn J-Bucks and redeem them for prizes in the teacher’s treasure boxes or save them up for “mini-events” held throughout the year.

At the end of the year, the staff will come together and vote on a new theme for the 2019-2020 school year. As the themes change, so will the houses. This year’s theme is, “Whatever it takes” and the team said they really proved to the kids they were willing to go all out when they showed off their kooky dance moves during the inaugural pep rally.

“The kids, they just really seem to be enjoying this,” Somerville said. “During the pep rally, some of the little ones were trying to teach us how to floss. They were having a great time and seem really excited about their houses and the competition. I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun.”

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