PRUNTYTOWN— Although students have yet to return to school for traditional learning, a group of local teachers has found a way to let their students know they haven’t been forgotten, and that their perseverance through this unprecedented time is something they’re proud of.
The sixth grade teaching staff at Taylor County Middle School (TCMS) had noticed that some of their students didn’t seem to be engaging in the remote learning model as well as others; because these educators are continually looking out for the wellbeing of their students’ education, they knew they needed a plan to encourage these students to try a little harder.
In browsing social media, TCMS teacher Autumn Young stumbled upon an incentive being offering to students who attend schools in surrounding counties, and took the idea to her fellow teachers. From there the staff created their own sweet incentive program, with the permission from the school’s administration.
“The sixth grade teachers came to me with the idea of delivering treats to their students who have been doing well and really putting a lot of effort into their virtual school work,” shared TCMS Assistant Principal Pam Hoskins. “I thought it was a great idea and couldn’t be more proud of our teaching staff.”
Heidi Reed, also a sixth grade educator at the school explained that when they look to select a student to receive a treat, they are looking at students who are completing all of their work and participating in daily lessons, despite the challenges that they have been faced with.
“These students are doing amazing. Not because it is easy, but because they were taking the time to really try,” she voiced.
She explained that the students who are being rewarded are consistently logged onto their virtual classes, asking questions and participating by giving feedback; they are turning work in before deadlines, and according to their teachers are truly just giving their best.
Reed revealed that when discussing some of these students, they were also surprised to find that in some cases, these students are doing all this with no internet at home.
“We have students going to hotspots, or sitting at their parent’s workplaces to be able to do their school work. Those students are why we decided that some sweet treats deserved to be received,” she noted.
The selection process is really quite simple. During their virtual team meeting, the sixth grade staff shares their recommendations and together they make a decision on who will be receiving the next surprise.
According to Reed, once the decision is made, parents/guardians are contacted for permission. If given the go ahead, they inquire about the child favorite treat, and then set out each afternoon to surprise their students with the home delivery, while following safety guidelines to keep their students and themselves safe from the spread of COVID-19.
“Sometimes the students like ice cream, others have enjoyed a cheeseburger or chicken nuggets,” said Reed. “Making these deliveries has quickly become our favorite part of a virtual school day. We plan to continue these visits while we are on this remote learning model, as our schedules and our administration have allowed us to use some afternoon time to do this.”
On top of going above and beyond to keep their students working, these teachers are supporting the incentive program out of their own pockets, saying that the money they are spending is worth it as long as their students know they are still here for them, still care and can’t wait to have them back in class.
Reed boasted about the TCMS administration for allowing them to conduct the sweet treat incentive saying, “We are blessed at TCMS with an administrative team who allows us to do these incentives for our students. They have the same vision that sixth grade teachers do, that our students are what matters. And this is just one more way to showcase all the great students we have at TCMS.”
In return, the administration feels just as blessed to have such a kind-hearted teaching staff.
“As a school we are so proud of our teachers for offering this incentive. They have shown success with it already. All of our teachers go above and beyond for our students. We truly are blessed with an amazing staff,” expressed Hoskins.
Hoskins also disclosed that all grade levels within the school will soon have similar incentive programs in place, including a school-wide incentive at the start of the second semester. Additional information on these programs is forthcoming.