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Merit Projects Make Lasting Impacts
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Merit projects and the Boy's Town Specialized Classroom Management Model seem to be hot topics in the Exceptional Learners Division these days. This Fall, the Southern Adirondack and F. Donald Myers Education Centers each have new Merit students.
Tim Finn, Greenwich CSD, collected donations of non perishable food items and personal hygiene products for hurricane victims. Tim worked with Social Worker Miriam Davis-Doern to visit classrooms door to door and collect items.
Davis-Doern said, “Tim worked on his social skills during the project. He greeted people and interacted with them one on one. Being on the autism spectrum, that is not an easy thing to do.”
Tim had been thinking about a Merit project for quite some time. With everyone talking about the hurricanes this Fall, Tim said “I thought it would be a good way to help.”
Elizabeth Meehan, a long term substitute teacher who is involved with a charity that is rebuilding devastated areas will deliver the items Tim collected when she travels to Florida.
Kody Anderson, Granville CSD (left) who is in STEP is among the newest Merit students. He is raising money for the Breast Cancer Society as his Merit project. Kody planned to do a project last spring, but waited patiently until October to do his project during Breast Cancer Awareness month so he could honor his mother who he lost to the disease. Kody painted pumpkins and sold them.
To do their Merit projects, Kody and Tim had to be “On Progress,” a Boys Town level that shows they don’t need daily monitoring of the Daily system. If they are Progress students, they are able to follow most or all of the rules independently. When on Progress, they have to be able to save enough Boys Town points (awarded for good behavior) to purchase 200 bonds at 6,000 points per bond. This requires students to demonstrate enough maturity to plan ahead and dole out their points sparingly.
Everyone moving from Progress level to Merit has to do a community service project along with signing a Merit contract.
The Boy's Town Specialized Classroom Management Model is a research based program used to teach, shape and reinforce appropriate behaviors. It helps to empower the students to take ownership of their actions, advocate for themselves and learn appropriate ways to express themselves when feeling frustrated.
A data-driven model that documents behavior, the Boy’s Town model is used throughout the Exceptional Learners Division.
“There is consistency in all of our programs”, says Executive Principal Turina Parker. “A student coming from the Middle School level will enter High School knowing how to follow instructions, how to accept help at a higher level than they would have if they had not gone through our program. The focus on the target skill piece is the highlight of the program.”
Kevin Pluckrose, Mechanicvile CSD and Jesse Wilkins, Saratoga Springs CSD spoke about their experience being Merit students with Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education Jhone Ebert during a recent visit to the Myers Education Center.
Last year, Kevin’s Merit project was to collect food donations for CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services. Jesse gathered personal hygiene products for the Code Blue shelter in Saratoga Springs as his service project.
“If I had to do it again I would,” said Jesse.
He said having Merit status, “gives me the incentive to exhibit positive behavior – greeting others, listening, following instructions, staying on task, using a polite voice tone. Every student has target skills that they need to work on and as they begin to perfect those target skills, they move on to other ones.”
Kevin commented that being on Merit was “similar to the economy since you can save up points and it lets you learn how to be wise with spending.”
The students impressed Deputy Commissioner Ebert who said, “the two of you are so articulate and have painted such a beautiful picture of the system.”
Kudos go to new Merit students and veterans who have been working hard to maintain their status.
Kevin Pluckrose, Mechanicville CSD and Jesse Wilkins, Saratoga Springs CSD talk about their projects at a meeting during Jhone Ebert's visit.
Jhone Ebert thanks Jesse Wilkins for a great presentation.