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Hammett Bowen students get to spend their "bear bucks"

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By Michel Northsea

Tuesday is shopping day at Hammett Bowen Elementary Schools.

It’s the day well-behaved students get to spend the “bear bucks” they have earned.

Bear Bucks represent money and they are handed out students exhibiting the traits of good behavior.

Students earning the “bear bucks” are meeting the school-wide expectations for each child’s behavior as well as their classroom management plan for their individual teacher, said Dean of Student Debby Borge Shaffer, who was helping man the store with volunteer parent Juwariya Quddus.

Shaffer said when the program was first implemented the bear bucks were handed out readily and freely to get students used to earning the money. Now in the second semester those earning the bear bucks will have to show exemplary conduct.

Any adult at the school, from the janitor and to the principal, carry the “bucks” in order to reward the best behaving students. Each dollar handed out has the student’s name on it and the reason they were rewarded is circled.

Money is rewarded to students showing behavior reflected of being their best, safety, active learning and respectful.

Once at the store students can choose from candy, toys, books, a lunch pass, a pancake breakfast pass or even VIP treatment for a day. Those prizes are donated by staff, parents and local businesses.

Students making a purchase can’t just hand over a stack of bucks to the attending adult. They first get a math lesson. Each buck is counted out by the student and for good reason.

“So you know how much money you need and have,” explains Sumar, a kindergarten student in Deborah O’ Neill’s class.

Nearby second grader Hannah Spillman carefully counts out 25 bear bucks to Shaffer. She earned her money for being her best, being an active learner and showing respect to other.

Handing over her money she all smiles as she takes a picture book entitled “Manners at School.”