As the 2015-2016 school year begins to roll forward, North Springs Charter High School is trying something new with the PBIS program and a school currency called Sparta Bucks.
Students can use Sparta Bucks to purchase a wide assortment of benefits ranging from time in the new student lounge to a free prom ticket. Students earn these unique Monopoly-eque slips of paper from their teachers when a teacher deems the student has done something worthy – and not necessarily just for “good deeds,” but for showing improvement, engagement, or just lending a helping hand. Sparta Bucks can also be given out by administrators and other staff members who see positive behavior; however, students should not expect Sparta Bucks to be handed out freely. To earn a Sparta Buck, a student must exhibit qualities of PROS (Professional, Responsible, On Time, and Smart).
At first, many students and staff members dismissed Sparta Bucks as something that might belong in an elementary school. Alasdair Boney, a junior at North Springs, describes Sparta bucks as, “Good in theory, unreliable in practice.”
However, views on Sparta Bucks from around the school are gradually changing. When asked about the effects of Sparta Bucks in her classroom, AP Human Geography teacher Kelly Olson commented, “At first I thought they [Sparta Bucks] were kind of frivolous, but my students seem to really want them and are excited any time they get an opportunity to get one.”
Dr. Eddie Ruiz, North Springs Principal, says he has seen a similar reaction from many other teachers. Ruiz commented, “Some [teachers] were really skeptical and thought Sparta Bucks were very elementary. As they began giving them out, they quickly realized that students’ behaviors quickly changed in order to earn the bucks.”
Taking a deeper look into the strategy behind Sparta Bucks, Dr. Ruiz talks about PROS, and the PBIS (Positive Behavior and Intervention Support) programs: “We created a structured system of Spartan PROS so that students could apply it in any part of the school. The token for doing these good behaviors in all parts of the school is the Spartan Buck.” Dr. Ruiz also hinted at the opening of the Spartan Rewards Lounge which will open later this month. The Rewards Lounge is located in the space of the former art gallery and will feature computers, a play station, music, board games, and a hangout. A second section of the lounge was also mentioned, but Dr. Ruiz did not comment further on it.
The adoption of Sparta Bucks this year marks the change in administrative policy to rewarding good behavior more often. Dr. Ruiz comments, “Sometimes, we as administrators and teachers can always focus on the things students do wrong, I wanted to focus on the things they do right instead.”