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Whoo is Being Kind and Caring?

Stacy Middle School Wellness Teachers Janet Ryan (left) and Celeste Salley pose with Wally and Winnie the owls, who perch on desks of students who make "wise" decisions. A new initiative this year, the mascots are a way to reward kindness, respect, and positivity.





When a small, fluffy, white stuffed owl makes its way to perch on a desk at Stacy Middle School, the students know the reason for the landing - because someone has just made a "wise" decision.

New mascots to the school this year, Wally and Winnie the owls make their way through the classrooms of Health and Wellness Teachers Celeste Salley and Janet Ryan as a reminder of making good choices.

"Instead of focusing on the negative behaviors, we wanted to find a way to focus on the positive," said Salley.

And what is more positive, according to the two health educators, then having a cute friend sit by your side as a recognition for a good decision or friendly gesture.

"The owls are symbolic representations of kindness and respect," said Salley. "The smiles you get on the kids' faces when Wally [or Winnie] ends up on their desk is amazing. It's a smile of pride that they knew they have done something nice."

Salley said the idea of the mascots came when the district as a whole began focusing on Social Emotional Learning as one of their goals this year. One of the big issues identified, according to Salley, was the disconnect between knowledge and behavior.

"The example I give the students is that we all know flossing our teeth is important to prevent cavities but do we floss our teeth each morning and evening?" she said. "So we wondered how as health and wellness teachers we could bridge that gap."

That's when the idea of the owls was hatched, and Wally and Winnie became a visual "thank you" for being kind and caring.

Not wanting to stop at just one initiative, the two teachers also have been distributing "positivity bracelets."

"When the students see a good behavior, or when they do a good deed themselves, they switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other," said Salley. "Eventually, students will begin to quickly identify kindness and to start to look at each other in a more positive way."

Salley said she has already gone through 400 bracelets, and plans to purchase additional bracelets as more and more students embrace mindfulness and positive thinking.

"We are thinking that these are steps in moving towards more social awareness and promoting kindness and respect," said Salley. "If something positive can come out of [these initiatives], I would be thrilled."

The two teachers have more ideas to recognize positivity that they plan to roll out this year, while Stacy students continue to be on the lookout for "whooo" is being kind and caring.




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