Monday, November 20, 2017
Education

Wristbands provide incentives for better performance at Land O'Lakes High School

RECOMMENDED READING


LAND O'LAKES — Tyler Minnick showed off his school-issued yellow rubber bracelet with pride.

It bore just two words — "on track." To Minnick, it represented more than a wrist accessory.

It meant he had earned enough credits to be on the way to an on-time graduation while also meeting his school's attendance, discipline and grade-point expectations. With that came the reward of being able to go to the media center without a signed pass, a real prize for this avid reader who admits to often losing his paper library passes.

"It's really helpful," the Land O'Lakes High senior said of his school's new incentive program. "It's hitting the point where it's giving me the slap on the back to get going, even work for a blue ('highly on track') wristband."

Year in and year out, Land O'Lakes High consistently has ranked among Pasco County's top performers when it comes to graduation rates and other academic markers. That didn't stop school leaders from striving for even better.

Upon her arrival at the school, assistant principal Kathy Leeper got the assignment of creating a program to motivate students to higher levels. Leeper had helped design a tracking and incentive system at Ridgewood High School, making her the natural choice.

One of the first things she recognized was that adults shouldn't come up with the plan on their own. At Ridgewood, she said, "We sat around and said, 'These are things that kids will love.' They said, 'These are lame.' "

Knowing that close to 85 percent of the student body already was on track for graduation, the idea of enlisting the students to learn what would get them to aim higher made perfect sense. Leeper convened focus groups, conducted surveys and sought other forms of input over a year.

"Slow and right is better than fast," she said.

Sophomore Sarah Oberfeldt sat on a summertime committee that helped create the privilege band program that Land O'Lakes launched in late October. She said the students listened to administrators' ideas, refining some, outright nixing others such as the paper punch card program that Leeper used at Ridgewood.

Wrist bands are easy to wear, not too childish, and difficult to destroy, which made them the right choice, Oberfeldt said. With a good mix of incentives, including discounted prom tickets and early dismissal from seventh period, the project seemed like it could take off.

"It motivates you to do better," she said. "It encourages you and shows the school is wanting you to improve your behavior."

The next step was to distribute the bands and hope the buzz among students would be positive. Senior Deionte Strozier, one of the first to receive a band, said the initial reaction has been welcoming.

Friends have asked Strozier where he got his band, and how they could get one too. He told them to earn it, just as he did.

"It means a lot to let me know I can keep going and I'm on path to graduate," said Strozier, who did not expect to get a band because of some missteps he took as a freshman. "I think it's useful."

Senior Hayley Viers said she only wished the school had the system in place when she entered as a freshman.

She took International Baccalaureate courses and didn't always put her best effort into the work. As a result, she said, her GPA suffered, something she's dealing with now as college approaches.

"If had this and I had looked at (my progress) every quarter, I would have done better," Viers said. A brightly colored privilege band on your wrist is "a constant reminder."

One that students can have taken away if they don't stay on track in all the monitored areas. A loss of the band would also mean no more access to rewards such as lunch line fast passes, weekly front row parking passes, outdoor lunch seating and more.

Senior Tommy Henriquez said he liked the program's benefits, both academic and social, and figured it would have its desired effect.

"It shows other classes to look forward to something, do the right thing and see what you can receive," Henriquez said. "I think it's good. Great."

The school started handing out the bands to eligible seniors first, taking time to see how the project works and what kinks need to be worked out. Other classes are scheduled to receive their bands in the weeks leading up to winter break.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

Associated PressThe latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African-Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before. The Rhodes Tr...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Class notes

School Calendar• Nov. 27: School resumes after Thanksgiving break• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middl...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior.Commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, Beckman is also an Eagle Scout mentor, National Honor Society president and swim team captain.Beckm...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Makerspace lab exposes Eastside students to tech skills and fun

Makerspace lab exposes Eastside students to tech skills and fun

BROOKSVILLE — The lab at Eastside Elementary School looks high tech, featuring new flooring, cabinets and furniture. Assistant Principal Michael Lastra calls it cutting edge."It’s not like your typical classroom," Lastra said. "The school wanted it t...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Pasco school district proposes future changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones

Pasco school district proposes future changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones

Plans to erase the attendance boundaries for Ridgewood High School have grabbed all the attention.But the Pasco County school district also has proposed changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones for consideration this fall.They’re just ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
At St. Petersburg High, alums push to complete private funding for home field improvements

At St. Petersburg High, alums push to complete private funding for home field improvements

ST. PETERSBURG — The athletic facilities at St. Petersburg High are just like Bob Carter remembers from 50 years ago.He recalls it all fondly: The concession stands, ticket booths and bathrooms are still the same. The track is still outdated asphalt,...
Published: 11/15/17
In union push at USF, adjunct professors strive for more respect and a living wage

In union push at USF, adjunct professors strive for more respect and a living wage

TAMPA — Robert Ryan cleaned out his office in May. He knew he was dying.He had kept driving to the University of South Florida even as he lost the use of his left arm. He had kept teaching English, even as tumors ravaged his mouth so that he could ha...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Hillsborough Education Foundation, Yoobi team to surprise students

Hillsborough Education Foundation, Yoobi team to surprise students

The kids at Bing Elementary knew something special was about to happen when a six-foot white dog with a "target" over his right eye walked into the classroom.And they were right.On Tuesday (Nov. 14), volunteers and corporate supporters joined the Hil...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/16/17
New aviation programs at PHSC help propel students toward dreams

New aviation programs at PHSC help propel students toward dreams

DADE CITY — Dustin Snodgrass has a photograph of himself as a child in the pilot’s seat of a kid-size model airplane. Snodgrass, now 28, recently took a big step toward his goal of flying real aircraft with his first solo flight through a new profess...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Hillsborough teachers show up in the hundreds to clamor for promised raises

Hillsborough teachers show up in the hundreds to clamor for promised raises

TAMPA — A weeks-long salary standoff between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers hit an emotional peak Tuesday as hundreds of teachers and students turned out to ask the School Board for their promised raises."War has been declar...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/15/17