It's all about making your day

At the end of each school day, students in Annette Allen's first-grade class have some tough decisions to make as they help decide how many points they earned during the day.

For most of Allen's first-graders and the rest of the students at Cottonwood Elementary School, it doesn't take long to figure out their total, especially when other students and staff are quick to speak up about a student's behavior.

"Kids see it as a fun program and it helps little kids speak up," Allen said, noting the program has had a positive impact on students' behavior and the overall school atmosphere since its implementation a few years ago.

Students who were afraid to speak up at the beginning of the school year have learned how to make their voices heard as the school year has progressed, Allen said.

Fourth-grade teacher Angela Peters echoed Allen's assessment of the program's impact on student behavior since its inception as the program has become enmeshed into the school's fabric.

"It's school-wide and when a new student comes into class, they pick it up pretty quickly," Peters said, adding that her students are often excited about teaching a new student about the program.

The program's effectiveness has remained a constant even as everyone at the school goes through the normal ups and downs of life, Peters said.

Because the program encompasses the entire school, second-grade teacher LouAnn Rosendale has seen younger students go to older students' classrooms and confront them about behavior they thought was unacceptable.

"I've had second-graders who have had a confrontation with fifth-graders go to their classroom and get an explanation," Rosendale said.

For Cottonwood Principal Paul Nash, who is in his first year as principal of the school, the program has allowed him to focus more of his time on creating a positive learning environment and supporting staff instead of being bombarded with minor disciplinary issues.

"Most of the time students resolve things in a respectful manner and it never makes it to me," Nash said.

However, there are some incidents which are serious enough to merit an automatic trip to his office, but those are relatively few and far between, he said.

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