Demonstrating PRIDE through instruction at Cleveland

Elkhart’s new PRIDE initiative has officially made its way into the daily lives of our elementary students.

Cleveland Elementary students and staff have embraced the curriculum, working to integrate the moral lessons of PRIDE (persistence, respectfulness, initiative, dependability, and efficiency) into the everyday standards of behavior and classroom instruction.

Daily lessons, followed by reciting the newly integrated PRIDE creed serve as a daily reminder and lesson for the students.

“So far, we’ve talked about the letters together, watched videos, and worked on team building activities,” said Kelli Weaver, physical education teacher at Cleveland.

Staff consistently exhibiting and encouraging these concepts in all possible environments, classroom and extracurricular, have made all the difference.

“We practice the creed and discuss what it means in class, and then the kids are rewarded for exhibiting those certain behaviors with Cleveland Cash,” said Bryan Nowakowski, third grade teacher.

The Cleveland Cash reward system is also a new aspect of the initiative. “When seen practicing characteristics of PRIDE, students are rewarded with one dollar of Cleveland Cash. This contributes to a larger, overall class fund that, when combined to meet a larger goal, can be traded in for rewards,” said Kelly Carmichael, principal. “I’ve seen fifth graders walking around in pajamas, stuffed animal day, extra recess—really any reasonable class activity that the kids can think of.”

Reward systems like these, not only teach kids, perseverance, but innovative and economical traits as well.

“In working hard to earn rewards, kids naturally the skills,” said Charlene Trotter, assistant principal.

Staff dedication to using any and all moments and methods to teach the curriculum have proved not only vital, but worthwhile.

First grade teacher Lisa Baker, explains her methods behind relaying the characteristics to her first grade students.

“I use a song from Zootopia (“Try Everything”), a popular kids movie, to teach persistence. It translates the larger meanings of PRIDE definitions into more understandable meanings for the young kids.”

And her students have taken to these methods, learning to not only recognize the qualities, but to both exhibit them, and cherish them in others.

“We talk about the letters, and I really like persistence because we learn to always try again,” said Presley Donis, first grade student.  “We get Cleveland Cash  and when we get enough we’re going to the fire station, the police station, the pumpkin patch, and we’re having a picnic in the park.”

In this, it’s clear that the students are not only learning to understand the meanings, but are enjoying it too.

“I saw it in my math class the other day,” said Nowakowski. “We were doing practice problems and a group had made some mistakes when doing the problems and when they realized it, they asked if they could come up to the board and correct them. I let them, but I also made sure to point out to them that ‘These are just practice problems, and you guys didn’t have to work so hard to fix your mistakes, but you chose to. Don’t be afraid to make those mistakes, take initiative.’.”

With participation from the students, and dedication from the staff, a new, more positive feeling has made its way into the building.

This environment has already been beneficial to the students, and will only grow in the months to come.

“Kids are proud of themselves and their actions.” said Trotter. “It’s not just an acronym, kids are really learning it.”