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Students rewarded with kayak trip
RTI2-B incentive program2
Lacy Garrison photo Eastside student Braeden Rich kayaks back to Smooth Rapids from Frank G. Clement Bridge during Eastside Elementarys reward trip.

Twelve Eastside students cashed in on their good behavior to earn an end-of-the-year kayaking reward trip.

“I think what we’re really doing is trying to change the culture of our buildings to try to move away from punitive things,” explained Director of Schools Bobby Cox. “We’ll always have students who misbehave and we have discipline procedures, but we’re trying now to do more reinforcement of positive behavior to change the negative behavior, so that’s been really good.”

Cox said although middle grades have a higher suspension rate, some of the other schools have decreased their suspensions, resulting in a lower suspension rate systemwide.

From ticket systems, door prizes, to field trips, schools are working hard to provide incentives that appeal to students.

“It honestly depends on how well the teachers implement the reward system,” said Mary Richardson, who teaches first grade at Bobby Ray. “Consistency is the No. 1 factor. My kids personally do better with the reward system I have implemented because they get to cash in every week for a reward rather than wait nine weeks.”

Richardson described some of the big prizes that were offered quarterly at Bobby Ray including s’mores and a hayride, decorating cookies with Santa, a dance party, and an upcoming firetruck day.

“For the younger grades, I feel like they need quicker gratification because of their trouble understanding a long-term goal,” said Richardson.
Many school administrators and teachers agree positive reinforcement is the best way to go. Plans to continue and improve incentive programs vary by school, but the overall feedback has been optimistic.

Danielle Hibdon, guidance counselor at Bobby Ray, said she’s seen a positive response in students, but they plan on tweaking the incentive program because there is always room for improvement.

“Next year, we plan to add more student input by asking them what kind of rewards or prizes they really like,” said Hibdon. “We feel they will work harder to reach incentives they actually had input on.”