This year we have been investing in a Title 1 elementary school where almost 100% of the children are on either greatly reduced lunches or free lunches. We started with baby steps in asking what the school needed that would have an immediate impact. We were told the library needed anything and everything! That gave us a starting point to began! Our motto is always “Just begin” and that’s what we did. The MIH Foundation helped make over their library by purchasing every book on their wish list as well as donating hundreds of other books from not only friends and family but people we didn’t even know. So many stepped up to help us with this project and for that we are extremely grateful. We then realized that when kids believe that someone thinks they are worth the fight; then they start to take pride in not only themselves but their school as well.
We decided to have a full blown Christmas party with the entire school! All 620 children was able to make his or her own ice cream sundaes, yes we had whip cream nuts and cherries, Santa found his way to the party, and each child was able to select a gift. This was a gift of their choosing as opposed to a hand me down or something they did not want. This was their moment. One child said he had never received a gift before. Another child shared her gift with the bus line. That’s a major step as this particular student was not know for sharing or showing any kindness towards others.Instead of taking it was suddenly about giving! It was more about can than can’t. Suddenly there was an atmosphere of sharing and harmony; which was definitely not the norm. The effects of that event are still evident.
To keep the momentum going, after the holidays, we then implemented an incentive program where the student gets their name in a big bucket by doing their homework, getting to school on time, staying at school all day, being kind to others and their general behavior. If their name is selected on our celebration day they can win a bike, an Xbox or a Nintendo DS just to name a few. We all respond to rewards and incentives! If it works for major corporation then why would it not work in an elementary school? Guess what…we are seeing these students respond! Their teachers are amazed at the results and we are proud of each and every student at this school. We are also appreciative of the hard work of the facility and have thrown in a little incentive for them as well!