Tiger Pride ads recognize Summit High School student achievement
You may have seen them before. In fact, if you’ve picked up a Summit Daily newspaper in the past two months, you almost certainly have. At the start of each week, the third page of the newspaper, right up front, displays an advertisement. Unlike its neighbors, this particular ad isn’t selling anything, but rather announcing, listing the names of Summit High School students who have been singled out by school staff as achievers in excellence.
Ever since October, Summit High School behavioral specialist and special education teacher Mindy Regner has worked to publish the Tiger Pride ads. She usually singles out three or four students per week, printing their names in the ad alongside an explanation of what they’ve done to deserve praise.
“All of the students in the entire high school can be candidates for it, as long as they’re showing positive attitude, respect, inclusion and dedication to excellence,” Regner said. The list of requirements spells out PRIDE, and are encouraged of the students at every level.
Since the ads have started, Regner estimates that between 30 and 35 students have been recognized in this way. The recognition links together with a similar initiative that high school staff started last year, called SHS Success, Regner said. When teachers or other school staff members notice a student’s achievement — such as having perfect attendance, performing well on a test, treating a classmate with respect — that faculty member will then email his or her colleagues with the student’s name and what they did. When the members next see that student in the halls, they make a point to congratulate them or comment on their positive behavior.
“It’s so cool,” Regner said. “The students (say), ‘how did you know?’ Instead of (just) me recognizing them, they’ll get everyone.”
While all students are eligible for recognition in the ads, Regner makes sure that at least once a week she focuses especially on at-risk students, or students who aren’t normally singled out for praise.
Pairing the positive ads with the continual recognition in class and in the hall has had a noticeable positive impact on the students, Regner said.
“The number one reason students drop out is they don’t feel they have a place. They don’t feel they’re recognized,” she said. “So recognizing those students has made a positive impact on attendance and brought down referrals and suspensions.”
School is a place where students not only go to learn subjects, but proper behavior and how to maintain a positive attitude as well, she added. In all classes, and particularly her own, students are taught expectations for how to behave, and sometimes they need reminders, which Regner believes should be done through positive reinforcement when possible.
Since the implementation of the positive programs, she has noted a difference in her own students. Her at-risk students didn’t often get very much positive reinforcement, either in or out of school, which affected their confidence.
“The students that are at risk and do have behavior challenges are the ones that have been told their problems their whole life,” she said. “They know what their problems are. If you sit down and ask my students, ‘Name five things that are great about you,’ most of them can’t get past one thing. They don’t know. It’s heartbreaking.”
With the emphasis on positivity and achievements including and beyond athletic and academic feats, these students are now receiving constant reinforcement at school.
“It’s crazy how much the snowball effect (works),” Regner said. “Because they feel good about themselves, they feel good in class and I don’t have so many behavioral problems in my class.”
And when the students are happy, so are the staff and teachers. More positive attitudes in the hallways and classrooms lead to a good school day experience for the students and a good workday experience for the adults, Regner said.
“We really try and have fun. If you’re going to be at school and you’re going to be at work, you want it to be positive.”
Another reason Regner turned to the newspaper advertisements to reinforce the positive behaviors was to get the community involved.
“It’s a great way for the community to know. I want them to know what positives are happening at the high school,” she said. The students get excited about it too, and make a point to look up who made the ad each week.
While the ad campaign has been a success, Regner is always looking for a way to expand it further, hoping to “embark on a new way of recognizing students,” hopefully by reaching further into the Summit County community.
“I would love to make another community connection,” she said. “The more community members we can get involved, the better.”
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