Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Students earn big bucks

Sunflower School principal motivates youths with ‘money’

October 31, 2000

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Usually students go to the principal's office kicking and screaming.

But at Sunflower School, elementary students are working hard to earn a visit to Principal Jill Smith's office. They do it by demonstrating respect, cooperation or self-discipline, and by answering a daily trivia question.

Each good deed or correct answer earns a student a 'Sunflower Buck.'

Students exchange 10 bucks for the opportunity to eat lunch with Smith, play board games with her or snare a handful of candy.

"It's one of the fun parts of my job," said Smith, who is in her first year at the elementary school, 2521 Inverness Drive.

Most students play games Uno, Go Fish, dominos, Thin Ice, Chinese checkers or Old Maid for about 30 minutes.

"It's given me the opportunity to really start learning the students' names, and I get to see lots of kids during the day," Smith said.

She ran a similar program last year as principal of a Louisburg elementary school. She had to change the currency's name to make it work in Lawrence, though, dumping 'Wildcat Buck' in favor of Sunflower Buck.

Sixth-grade teacher Linda Browning said the program reinforced positive behavior traits for Sunflower students, who concentrate on a new trait each month.

The program incorporates an academic tone by inspiring students to research answers to quirky questions. Students also have an opportunity to see the principal as someone they can trust.

"All the kids will go to the principal's office, eventually, for the right reasons," Browning said. "I love it, and I think the kids do, too."

Smith receives an average of five student visitors each day.

Sixth-graders Nick DeBiasse, Philip Bennett and Margret Curry traded 10 bucks each for an opportunity to whip Smith at board games.

"I liked Uno, and I like her," Margret said.

Nick is well on his way to a return visit with Smith, having collected seven more bucks. Philip has five, and Margret has four.

Each of these students expects to earn a minimum of 50 bucks.

But Margret has the most aggressive goal.

Her aspiration?

"Two hundred bucks," she said.

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