Thursday, September 22, 2005

Motivational Sticking

Principal Sandye Simon of Lebanon, Connecticut, has certainly found one way of rewarding students for making their reading goals:
When students left Lebanon Elementary School in June for summer vacation, a masking tape outline of Principal Sandye Simon was affixed to the gym wall.

Simon had challenged students and teachers to read during the summer, promising that each book they finished would equal an inch of duct tape they could use to tape her to the wall.

The outline of Simon's slight figure hovered a few feet above the gym floor for months, motivating 334 students and teachers to hit the books.

During a recent school day, the principal upheld her promise. Students used more than 8,000 inches of duct tape to stick Simon to the wall for nearly three hours.

Students and teachers took turns slapping varying lengths of multicolored duct tape onto the principal. They cheered wildly at a school assembly when the footing Simon was standing on was pulled away.

Samantha Jeannotte, 7, sat on the gym floor, giddy with excitement.

"I don't usually read that much during the summer, but did a lot more because I couldn't stop thinking about taping Principal Simon to the wall," Samantha said.

First-grade teacher Gloria Kimball called the challenge "reverse psychology at its best."

"She'd tell the kids: 'Don't read any books! Don't read any books!' And of course, they did just the opposite," Kimball said.

Barbara Strielkauskas, a reading teacher at the pre-kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "principal for the day." She held a walkie-talkie and called a steady stream of students and teachers to the gymnasium.

"The outcome is tremendous," Strielkauskas said. "I haven't seen school spirit like this in a long time."

Sergey Bibeau, 7, said he plodded his way through "The Magic School Bus" series this summer and was very amused by the duct taping.

"Principal Simon on the wall is so funny," he said, covering his face. "We should do this a lot."
Any school principal or teacher willing to undergo this type of good-natured ordeal on behalf of his or her students certainly merits our respect. It is for that reason that we offer Principal Simon our Red Apple Salute.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, hosted here at The Wonks, as well as entry instructions for next week's midway, right here.

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