A year after starting the handing out of Bulldog Bucks for good behavior, Millsap Elementary staff is seeing the difference in student behavior.

Bulldog Bucks are given to students when “they go above and beyond,” Elementary Principal Cathy Bradshaw said. Students can save up the bucks for special treats or privileges.

Rewards include options like bringing a stuffed animal to school, wearing slippers to school, 10 minutes of iPad time, homework pass, wearing pajamas to school, having lunch with the principal and being an office aide, among others. Students can also use the bucks to pick an item off the treat cart which includes pencils, erasers and notepads.

Any staff member can give any student a Bulldog Buck for good behavior like being quiet in the hallways, picking up trash and helping their peers, Bradshaw said.

Bulldog Bucks was inspired by other token systems that offer tangible rewards recommended in positive behavior intervention systems, Bradshaw said. The system is a result of elementary staff wanting to be proactive about discipline.

“Sometimes there are those kids who always get in trouble but there’s also those kids who always do what they’re supposed to be doing, and so it’s a way for them to be recognized for their behavior,” Bradshaw said.

The Bulldog Bucks system is also helping reform kids who get in trouble often, Bradshaw said.

“Our discipline referrals have gone down, decreased, so it’s definitely been positive,” Bradshaw said.

Millsap Elementary kindergarten teacher Misty Triem said she has also noticed a change in behavior after implementing Bulldog Bucks. Especially for kindergartners, the system offers positive reinforcement immediately after a child displays good behavior.

Bulldog Bucks also teaches kids financial literacy as they garner and spend their Bulldog Bucks, Triem said.

“It teaches them about money, it teaches them about saving, and it teaches them responsibility because they have to keep up with their money,” Triem said.

Some of Triem’s former students at the elementary will save up their Bulldog Bucks to be her teacher’s aide, she said.

“It also helps the bigger kids get to come back to kindergarten and help and revisit teachers that they’ve had in the past,” Triem said.

Handing out Bulldog Bucks shows kids what good behavior is and encourages them to make good choices to be rewarded, Triem said.

“It teaches them — and I’m really big about this — good choices equals good consequences, bad choices equals bad consequences,” Triem said. “When you don’t do what you’re supposed to, you don’t get what you want.”

Triem said she has gotten positive feedback from parents and kids about Bulldog Bucks.

“The kids get super excited about it,” Triem said. “With my littles, they just bring a stuffed animal; it’s not a distraction, it just hangs out with them for the day, and that’s it, but they work so hard for those 10 Bulldog Bucks so that they can bring that.”

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