SPM children learn good behavior, budgeting
Published 9:46 am Friday, February 20, 2015
Every other Friday, Kamari Scott gets a chance to redeem any points he might earn at the Pony Store, which is set up on the stage at S.P. Morton Elementary School’s cafeteria.
The fourth-grader had earned 47 points over the past couple of weeks. That was enough to give him access to the more high-end items in the back of the store.
“I probably want something on the top shelf. I’m thinking about this,” Kamari, 10, said as he pointed to a remote-controlled snake. “But it costs 100 points.”
Once he looked over a few more top-shelf items, he decided that the snake was what he wanted, so he would continue to save money. For every 10 points he enters into the Pony Bank, he earns one Pony Point of interest every week. With more good behavior, and some savings, that toy would be his in less than a month. In the meantime, he had seven points that he couldn’t really do anything with, so he figured he’d spend some of it when he approached Theresa Turner, a parent volunteer who coordinates the store.
“This time, I’ll probably get something that costs five points, like a piece of candy,” Kamari said. “Next time, I’ll get the snake.”
Shannon Wade, who teaches Kindergarten at the school, said that her students always look forward to visiting the Pony Store.
“I think it’s building good skills for them,” she said. “It teaches them how to be a good citizen, and it also teaches them to earn things. They have to work hard to earn points — nothing is given to them.”
Principal Jason Chandler said the idea started at the beginning of the year through Assistant Principal Teri Pittman, who chaired the behavior intervention committee.
“We were brainstorming about ways we could enhance the school culture and classroom management,” he said. “We came up with a school-wide behavior plan that includes Pony Points, given for positive behavior.”
It’s been rolled out in four phases, Chandler said. First, it started in the classrooms. Then, it moved to the buses, as drivers have points they can give for good bus behavior. After that, it moved out into the community, as some of the volunteer organizations that work in the school and outside of the building were given points to distribute. The most recent phase was the Pony Bank, where the school partnered with Bronco Federal Credit Union to teach the children about savings and interest.
The store includes toys, chips, candy and even some educational items, such as books and journals. Some items are not on the shelf, however. Students can earn the ability to dress down for a day for 80 points. One of the bigger items is an opportunity to have lunch with Chandler and Pittman.
The principal said it has been working, as the school has seen a decrease in the number of discipline reports at all levels since the beginning of the year. The Pony Store has been open for about two months.
“It has been a team effort, with the community, parents, students and teachers all involved,” he said. “We are taking steps in a positive direction — to increase the educational culture here at S.P. Morton. We want to go back to those pillars — respect, responsibility and making that commitment to excellence.”
Kamari said earning 47 points wasn’t too tough, as he figured out what he needed to do. Of course, doing his classwork is important, but it’s also about good manners.
“You have to be respectful to your teachers, and you can’t always be getting in trouble,” he said. “I have been respectful to my teachers, and responsible for my stuff — I always keep my desk clean.”