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1/28/2019 1:04:00 PM
Anderson Elementary sets aside playroom to encourage good behavior
From left, Guadalupe Lemus and Aaliyah Ogburn sit in a canoe filled with pillows during the opening of the new awards room, Mariners Cove, at Anderson Elementary School. Staff photo by Don Knight
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From left, Guadalupe Lemus and Aaliyah Ogburn sit in a canoe filled with pillows during the opening of the new awards room, Mariners Cove, at Anderson Elementary School. Staff photo by Don Knight

Rebecca R. Bibbs, Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON – Two girls snuggle with pillows and blankets in a canoe in a classroom at Anderson Elementary School to read books.

In another area, two boys let off some steam by fighting with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots.

And at a table in the middle of the classroom, two girls set a table so expertly, they may be ready for careers with a catering company. 

“Who’s responsible for setting that table? You guys did an amazing job,” said Anderson Elementary Dean Courtlon Peters.

He said the room is based on positive behavior intervention and supports, rather than the more commonly perceived negative interventions, such detentions and suspensions.

“It’s providing an opportunity to reward students for their positive behavior. A lot of time, good behavior goes unnoticed,” he said. “I try to be more innovative. Oftentimes, suspension isn’t the solution. They may go home and the behavior hasn’t changed.”

And it appears to be working, Peters said.

“We’ve already seen a reduction in our referrals,” he said. “The students have really taken to this. They’ve taken the initiative to work toward this.”

Mariners Cove is one of many strategies schools and districts use to help modify disruptive classroom behaviors that prevent students and their from absorbing the lessons.

In addition to behavioral intervention, Mariners Cove also is used for conflict resolution, to screen anti-bullying videos or as an escape from the classroom, Peters said.

“Sometimes, kids really get worked up and need a break,” he said.

The room is scheduled by teachers two to three times a week after students have earned points for good behavior, Peters said.

“It is based on the students’ behavior and their rewards,’ he said. “Those students who are learning and adjusting, it gives them something to work towards.”

Second-grader Maliyah Davis, 8, moved from station to station, trying a little bit of everything the room had to offer. She’s been to Mariners Cove a couple of times since it opened at the beginning of the school year.

“I actually like most of the toys,” she said.

Anderson Elementary Principal Dave Tijerina said Mariners Cove is a welcome addition to the strategies used by staff to help students learn positive behaviors. 

“I think that kids need to understand early on when you make good choices, you get good things,” he said. “We want them to understand they are part of something bigger when they make good choices. This room gives us a medium to help them with this process.”

However, that doesn’t mean school officials don’t believe in consequences for bad behaviors, Tijerina stressed.

New to Anderson, NTN Driveshaft Anderson Inc. is trying to be a good neighbor by providing $2,500 for the setup of the room and volunteers to staff it and play with the children.

NTN human resources manager Teresa Amburgey said it is the company’s philosophy to provide community support in many ways.

“Education is one area we are very interested in,” she said.

When approached by school officials to provide assistance, Amburgey said, it wasn’t difficult to get on board. Projects like this go hand-in-hand with the needs of the workplace by developing soft skills like cooperation, she said.

“It wasn’t just asking for a donation, for an item for the school. It was investing in good behavior,” she said.

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