As I discussed previously, I'm in charge of the Students of the Month and Homeroom of the Month initiatives at my building. Over the summer, my principal discussed a few changes to the way the students and homerooms are chosen with me, which I don't really agree with. I'm of the opinion that we should reward kids frequently, consistently, and for relatively simple and minute things. Build up the sense of self-esteem and self-worth in knowing that they can "do it," then increase the expectations and level of performance for a reward, otherwise you'll have no student buy-in. My principal has very high expectations for our students, which in theory is a great thing, but it's hard to expect high poverty, low performing students to have 95% attendance, 100% uniform use, etc. But I digress.
My principal did make some great suggestions though. She wanted to reward our star homerooms with a pizza or ice cream party every month and award repeat winners with a special class field trip at the end of the year. Our student winners get some neat things already--their picture taken and put on a bulletin board, their name announced over the loud speaker and put in the school newsletter, and a certificate--but, I suggested more meaningful incentives, like gift cards or "good for" coupons to local restaurants. My principal also suggested a special field trip for multiple student winners, to really recognize their substantial achievements. Bigger and better rewards for being a kick butt student? Sign me up.
Off I went to fundraise. I totally spammed the postal service asking local fast food chains, grocery stores, dollar stores, etc for donations and funds. Mind you, I'm absolutely prepared to shell money out of my pocket to reward my kiddos, but I knew this was going to be too big of a cost. We typically have 20 students and 1-2 homerooms crowned every month. At first, I had no bites and only rejections, and I was bummed. Then, I started playing phone tag with our local McDonald's corporate office, who wanted to donate coupons. When they asked me what I was looking for, I said that we expect to give out 25 coupons to kids a month, and left it up to them to determine their contribution. Well, they offered me 25/month for the ENTIRE YEAR, all personalized for "McStudents of the Month." Later that week, I received 10 certificates for a free pint of ice cream at a local frozen custard store, 100 coupons to Wendy's, and today, 50 coupons to Burger King, all personalized for my school. Woah.
I was so totally blown away by the generosity of the local business community. True, I understand that they have a commitment to donations and giving to causes in the area, but I never expected such a great response. I'm so thrilled and excited to shower my school with incentives and rewards!
Moral of the story: if you want something, ask for it, because you just might get 250 McDonald's hamburgers and fries out of it.
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