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 Article of Interest - School Climate

Positive & Productive: Coleman Elementary School kicks off behavior program
by Angela E. Lackey, The Midland Daily News, 08/30/2002
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COLEMAN It was a celebration of school, learning and positive behavior.

Circling around, the children held hands and wiggled in anticipation. Shouts could be heard "Back up!" "Let's go this way." "You're breaking my arm!" Bright sunshine and the smell of roasted hot dogs saturated the air.

Coleman Elementary School kicked-off its "Positive and Productive Behavior Program" with a hot dog roast. Then about 450 students and an unknown number of teachers, parents and other adults circled the school to symbolically mark it as a safe, welcoming and positive environment.

Principal Mary Jo Fachting opened the celebration by asking the children, "What makes this place ... a special place?"

"In order to have you learn, we need to have Coleman Elementary be a safe place," Fachting said.

Fachting said it's harder for a child to learn if he is worried about what bus to catch, or being teased about his glasses.

The children's faces looked up from the gym floor as Fachting explained what makes the school a special place. Several parents were scattered throughout, also listening.

"The third thing ... we need for it to be positive," Fachting said.

She said both children and adults like it when someone says, "Good morning" and asks how the person is doing.

Coleman has used the program, developed in Minneapolis/St. Paul more than a decade ago, for four years. Fachting said the children learn 75 skills related to behavior. Some skills are taught on a three-year cycle; others are taught yearly.

Each month has a theme. September's theme is the basics of behavior. The children learn how to be prompt and prepared, how to follow directions, respect of authority, property and the rights of others and more.
The children learn the skills of positive character in November. They are taught to be honest, be trustworthy, be ethical, be kind and more.

Angel Middleton, 10, knows why learning these skills are important.

"So when you're older, you don't do that stuff, you get better grades and you get a good job," Middleton said.

Productivity skills are taught in January. Skills include possess employability skills, possess completion skills and set and achieve goals.

Middleton, a fourth-grader, said examples of good behavior are "not talking back to the teacher," "walking in a straight line" and "being respectful to your classmates."

Classmate AJ Humphrey, 11, added "don't talk while she's talking." He said school is a good place because "you get to learn to read and write."

The year ends with the theme productive character. The children learn how to use common sense, be patient and more.

The children tried hard to be patient while circling the building. A few broke rank with the circle; a couple tugged at each other

Then the bell rang and the mission was accomplished.

"We did it!" shouted one child.

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