WILDWOOD — There are a lot of good reasons to do homework.
But for third-graders Zanyaha Davis, 8, Myah Scott, 8, and Rubi Gomez, 9, one of the best is the tickets they earned for the 100th Day of School Carnival at the Glenwood Avenue School on Tuesday.
“I want to win tickets so I can play more games,” said Scott as she licked the snow cone she bought with her tickets.
“And if we don’t do our homework, we don’t get a ticket,” Gomez explained.
School discipline typically revolves around punishment for infractions.
But anti-bullying and school climate programs are increasingly shifting the emphasis from punishing bad behavior to reinforcing and rewarding good behavior.
Glenwood Avenue uses the N.J. Positive Behavior Support in Schools system, a collaboration between the state Department of Education and The Boggs Center, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Begun in 2003, the system is used by 161 schools in 18 counties. The program includes teacher training in how to set up a class to promote a positive climate and establish clear expectations.
Study results have shown an average 19 percent decrease in behavioral referrals and a 21 percent decrease in out-of-school suspensions for schools that faithfully follow the program.
Tuesday at Glenwood focused on reaping the rewards of having done homework, come to school on time, helped classmates and been respectful to others.
“I love doing this stuff,” said special education teacher James DiFalco, who enthusiastically monitored the Frisbee toss game. “All the students are in here because they did something good. This is an incentive, something to work for.”
Students can earn tickets all week, and on Fridays winning tickets are also picked for small awards from the school prize closet or special treats such as a hot chocolate bar or ice cream.
“We want to keep the students motivated all week long,” Principal Cristel Pond said. “They can also get a ticket for things like holding the door open for someone.”
She said community support has helped by paying for or donating some of the prizes.
DiFalco said he and other teachers keep tickets clipped to their ID badges so they can hand them out at random even outside of class. He said he especially likes to give tickets for things students don’t even realize are going to earn them a ticket.
Pond said some students get more tickets than others, and students count their tickets like money they are saving. Teachers got 300 tickets each just for the carnival, so there were plenty to distribute.
Each grade of students got to spend 45 minutes at the carnival, playing games, getting their faces painted and eating popcorn and snow cones. Students from the Peer Leadership program at the high school came to help out, and a couple of the games were built by students in the Industrial Arts Program.
As the carnival wound down, teacher Cathy Elsey took the bin full of used tickets out the main hallway, where a bulletin board is set up with a bin to hold all the collected tickets. The goal is to fill the bin by the next big school event — beach day in June.