Our Opinion: This school principal’s plan for encouraging good behavior takes the prize

August 15th, 2015 3:21 pm

Would it be a good idea to …

… reward students for keeping quiet in the halls and generally not causing a disturbance at school?

A prize-based program to be unrolled this school year at Lackawanna Trail Elementary Center, in Factoryville, seeks to inspire good behavior by dangling lots of carrots rather than imposing the stick.

Abide by the rules, and win the opportunity to skip a homework assignment. Or enjoy an extended gym class. Or maybe sit in a teacher’s chair for a day. Or the holy grail: take a limo ride with some classmates to lunch.

Principal Brian Kelly views the start-up program, known by the acronym ROAR, as a sensible way of quickly getting students in kindergarten through sixth-grade to understand and abide by school official’s expectations. To drive home the message, banners displayed on the first day of classes will showcase the program’s themes. Students should be: respectful, organized, accepting and responsible.

Each teacher and full-time staffer can participate, too, bestowing 25 tickets per week to students who do the right things. The tickets can be exchanged for school supplies at a PTO-run school store.

If successful, ROAR will have a calming effect from the cafeteria to the playground to each desk. Teachers won’t have to drop what they’re doing as often to act as classroom cops and disciplinarians. The hoped-for result: more learning.

“Academics is key. I believe our teachers have all the tools they need – the curriculum, the assessments, the instruction – but the disruptions are hurting them, and that’s what we’re attacking,” Kelly recently told the Abington Journal. “And, who doesn’t want to make it a more fun place to come?”

School officials began experimenting with a rewards program last year to reduce certain students’ unruly behavior and improve safety aboard buses. “It has worked,” Kelly said.

Does a prize-centric school program to foster positive behavior sound like winning idea? Would you support it in your local district?

Or, when it comes to children’s conduct, are you of the old-school mindset that kids should just do what they’re told, or else?

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor or posting comments to this editorial at timesleader.com.

Likewise, tell us your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”