HHS staff discuss ways Positive Behavior booth has helped students

By Julie Fann
star staff

Since Hampton High School started a concession booth designed to reward good behavior and improved grades, school officials have seen an approximate 30 percent increase in the number of students who receive rewards, they said Wednesday.
   The school held its first concession booth in November 2003. Since then, three more have been opened for students to spend what the HHS Behavior Management Team named "Dog Dollars", after the schools' sports teams. Students receive "Dog Dollars" in increments of $1 each for behavior that goes beyond what is expected and/or for improved grades.
   "I know of one girl who improved her grade from a failing grade to a C, and the words she said were, 'I'm not sure I would have done that if it hadn't been for the dog dollars.' You know, you ought to do that on your own, but if that's what it takes then that's what it takes," Principal Danny McClain said.
   Patrick Kelly, who teaches economics and psychology at the high school, enlists the students' help in keeping records of those who receive dog dollars and their personal accounts. The result, he and McClain said, is that those kids also learn basic financial skills.
   "They get to keep track of deposits and withdrawals and kind of see how that cycles through. We get the dollars, separate them by class and alphabetize them and put them in the computer. After we go through a concession stand, we withdraw what they use. They kind of get a little bit of hands-on experience. It's been helpful for the students to see it in action," Kelly said.
   Various businesses, including Coke, have provided food and other items that are sold at the concession booth. Students can buy anything from candy to book bags, pens and T-shirts, as well as hats and small radios with earphones. Tusculum College and ETSU donated book bags and other merchandise.
   "We have also had some drawings in the gym where we gave out movie tickets, my parking space for one week, and free oil changes," McClain said.
   The most beneficial aspect of the program, according to school staff, is that students begin to see that good behavior and hard work do pay off, and that being recognized for positive qualities increases the frequency of their occurrence.
   "I'm a firm believer that negative behavior feeds off of negative behavior, and so does positive behavior, and if kids get in the habit of doing good, they will continue to do good. You form a lot of habits in high school," McClain said.
   Kelly believes good behavior leads to rewards in the real world. "I think you do get rewarded for positive behavior in the real world. If you go to work and you work hard and you have a positive attitude, then you are rewarded, rather than if all you do is show up and have a negative attitude," he said.
   The two also said that students don't receive "dog dollars" just for being at school. They receive them for exhibiting extraordinarily good behavior and/or improved grades.
   "It's not about doing just what's expected of you; it's about going beyond that," McClain said.
   Members of the HHS Behavior Management Team, in addition to McClain and Kelly, are Sharon Thomas, Kim Walsh, John Melendez, Debbie McCormick, Elaine Burleson and Jerry Street.
   The school is planning another Positive Behavior concession booth in April.