Rewards make a difference

November 03, 2001

Gary Moskowitz

RANCHO DISTRICT -- When he spotted the crumpled $10 bill on the floor

of the cafeteria, Jason Cecena didn't even open it up to see exactly how

much it was. He just picked it up, walked over to a nearby counselor and

turned it in.

"I didn't even look at it or find out how much it was until somebody

told me. I just knew it was somebody's money, so I turned it in right


away," said Jason, 13, an eighth-grade student at David Starr Jordan

Middle School. "My friends have been bugging me about it, giving me a

hard time for not keeping it."

Cecena was one of 28 students at Jordan Middle who received an encased

silver dollar and an honor certificate, for exemplary behavior in and out

of the classroom, at an award ceremony in the school's library last


Students were awarded for positive attitude and academic improvement,

for turning in lost money, volunteering after school, cleaning classrooms

and informing teachers of problem situations.

Annie Williams, a physical-education teacher at Jordan Middle,

nominated Adriana Powers for helping her get through an emotional moment

during the weeks that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist acts.

"We had received a letter from Laura Bush addressing the attacks and

were supposed to read it to our students, but I got really choked up and

couldn't finish reading it. Adriana simply asked me if I wanted her to

read the letter for me," said Williams, 27. "Her sensitivity and ability

to look beyond herself was touching."

Even at the middle school level, when students are less likely to want

to stand out from the crowd, recognition for positive behavior can give

students a sense of value and have long-term teaching effects, said Karen

Forletta, school psychologist with the Burbank Unified School District.

"Negative consequences stop bad behavior for the moment, but students

will more than likely misbehave again. Recognizing them for something

good, when they may not have expected it gives them a sense of value, and

they will remember that," Forletta said.

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