Friday, February 6, 2009

A Plea For Help...


Do you remember going to junior high school? Your body and mind were probably changing as quickly as the world around you. Increased responsibilities and expectations, peer pressure, and the uncertainty of change all contributed to one of the most interesting times of life.
In 2006, after fourteen years as a classroom teacher, I accepted a position as middle school principal. As I’ve dealt with the day-to-day concerns and cares of middle school students, I’ve been reminded of my own middle school experience.

The issue that I deal with on a daily basis is student behavior. I’ve noticed in my eighteen years in the public schools that many students lack the skills necessary to become “self-monitoring” concerning their own behavior. Many also lack basic character qualities necessary to become successful members of society.

Because of this, I, along with my guidance counselor, staff, and a group of parents, have begun developing a program to address these issues. Recently, the Educational Services Center in Darke County, Ohio received a grant to train staff in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Three of our staff members have been involved in this training. We worked with this group to develop a Character Education Program and a Behavior Incentive program that was implemented at the middle school in the fall of 2006.

Project H.A.L.O. (Helping Arcanum Learners Overcome) involves the dovetailing of a positive behavior system, a character education program, an anti-drug, anti-violence program, with our current disciplinary program. Teaching units have been created to teach students the six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. School handbook policies and classroom rules are also being adjusted to model these six character qualities. Students will move from being told what not to do, to an understanding of how following school rules reflect an understanding of the six pillars of character.

Another aim of this program is to move our school culture to the next level. It is our hope that instead of rewarding students for merely doing “what is expected”, we can begin to reward students for actions “above and beyond” the expected. As students learn and model trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, the climate and culture of the school will begin to change.

Educational research has shown that positive student gains can occur when teachers hold high expectations for student learning, and when schools provide incentives, recognition, and rewards to promote excellence. The success of Project H.A.L.O. therefore rests on our setting high, realistically attainable goals that are clearly defined for our students, and then providing our students with some incentive to reach these goals.

The purpose of this letter is to request your participation in Project H.A.L.O. through the donation of product, advertising tee-shirts, stickers, or a cash donation that can be used in our incentive program. Having worked with students in a variety of settings, I understand that students like getting “STUFF”. Our program will monitor and provide incentives for positive student behavior. Students will be given “Butler Bucks” for outstanding positive behavior, as well as academic achievement and perfect attendance. Students are then able to use these tokens to purchase items that have been donated. The program has been in place for the past three years and has been very successful.

This letter has been sent to a variety of businesses that market directly to our students. In the past three years, we have been able to offer students a variety of clothing, games, sports equipment, school supplies, posters, and decals. During the first two years, the program relied total on the items generously donated. This year, our middle school student council has taken over the project and has supplimented donations with purchased items. These items are purchased using moneys the student council has earned through a school-wide recycling program.
Any and all items that you might consider donating would be greatly appreciated. Example items might include your product, clothing, posters, stickers, autographed memorabilia, key chains, coupons, discounts, etc. The idea is to provide a variety of incentives to motivate ALL of our students toward success.

Any donated items should be sent to the following address:

Mr. Kirby Tipple, Principal
Arcanum-Butler Middle School
1481 St. Rt. 127 S.
Arcanum, Ohio 45304

Thank you for your time and consideration of this proposal. If you have any questions concerning this project, please contact me via telephone at 937-678-6571, or by email at kirby_tipple@darke.k12.oh.us.

Sincerely,

Kirby Tipple, Principal Arcanum-Butler Middle School


***A special thanks to my friend and fellow Hubhead Fred Blakeslee for his continued support of this program through the donation of custom-painted Hotwheels and Hotwheel sets!!



p.s. – Your generosity is key to the success of this program.