CRESWELL, Ore. — Creslane Elementary administrators are changing things up.
They started offering monthly school-wide rewards to students who behave. This month, kids worked together to hold their own soap box derby.
Kids are responsible for building, decorating and racing their very own soap box cars, but they’re only invited to participate if they’ve been safe, respectful and responsible all month long.
This is the first derby Creslane Elementary has ever seen, but not the first event like this.
“We did a minute to win it event based on the game show. We did a marshmallow fight in the gym one month–that was a mess,” said Ryan Beck, Creslane Elementary Principal.
These school-wide shennanigans are new this year, a monthly merit for those who follow three simple rules–be safe, respectful and responsible.
Every one of these kids behaved, followed the rules and avoided referrals all month. They’re on the right track with their behavior, which means they get to race down the track with their home-made soap box cars. It’s a new school model based solely on positive reinforcement, and it all started when Beck became principal this year.
“My goal is you can’t punish behavior out of kids, and our goal personally is that if a child misses an event for not being safe, respectful, responsible, they only miss one. So then the counselor and I get together with that child and we make a plan. So, hopefully this event is so powerful that next month the kids say, ‘I’m going to be safe respectful responsible,’” Beck said.
Teachers say that’s exactly what’s been happening.
“Students have more school pride, in themselves as well as the school,” said teacher Sherry Loenning.
“It feels like they want to be at school more when we have these big monthly events for them to look forward to, and I think the big thing is just buy in, and they buy in, and they want to do what they can to be there,” said teacher Marie Nickelson.
Beck says as the kids catch on, the behavior gets better. Since he started, teachers cut student referrals in half and then some. They’ve found a winning strategy. You can see it in the numbers and on the kids’ faces.
“They’ve been safe, respectful responsible all month long, and that’s hard sometimes. So, it’s constantly reminding them this is their payoff. This is their paycheck at the end of the month for doing their job. So, that’s what makes me happiest, that we have 98 percent, almost 590 kids participating,” Beck said.
They’re not at the finish line yet, but Beck says 100 percent participation is in sight. The course has been laid. The prize is there for the taking. Now, it’s just a matter of students following the rules of the road.
The fun is not over yet. Friday, the kids will find out who won the races and get to watch their teachers race in their cars.