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  • Last modified 151 days ago (Dec. 21, 2017)

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OASIS students on best behavior for families, not Santa

Incentives for good behavior pay off for students’ families at gift auction

News editor

It’s tough for some kids to earn money to pay for Christmas gifts, but students in the OASIS program at Marion County Special Education Cooperative have an alternative: Be good.

Throughout November and December, students could earn points for good behavior that served as currency in an auction in which they could buy gifts for family members donated by county businesses.

“It’s been a tradition here for a few years,” OASIS supervisor Mitch Neuenschwander said. “It’s just a great way for them to give back to their families and friends.”

Behaviors that earn points are things often taken for granted in other classrooms: appropriately getting a teacher’s attention, positive negotiating, being honest, and making requests, for example.

It’s as much a part of instruction for his students as math or English, Neuenschwander said.

“It’s learning at all times for our students, academics and learning behaviors,” he said. “They have to practice certain behaviors. A lot of our students behave consistently well. It gives them ownership in their schooling.”

Points earned could be banked up to a maximum amount, Neuenschwander said, but also could be used for things other than the auction, as needs dictated.

A student referred to the office for misbehavior could work their way back into the classroom to earn positive points for positive behaviors, he said.

Students learn responsibility by tracking their points earnings daily and prioritizing what’s important to them, Neuenschwander said.

More than 30 businesses contributed gifts for the auction, which was conducted by auctioneer Lyle Leppke.

“The businesses donated items they felt students or families would enjoy,” Neuenschwander said.

It was Neuenschwander’s first time to be involved with the auction, and as students vied for items to give to family and friends, he observed learning as well as fun.

“There was a bit of competition there, but then again, the highest bidder gets the item so they have to decide if the item is worth bidding the extra points,” he said. “It was just great to watch our students. It was a joyful event for them, and it was good to see them behaving the way they did and participating.”

Some items weren’t put up for sale, but rather were given as gifts to the students themselves. However, one student showed he had learned the gift of giving well.

“One of the gifts he received, he gave to his brother,” Neuenschwander said. “It was a backpack and he needed one. To see him step forward and give his gift to his brother was a feel-good experience for a lot of staff.”

Last modified Dec. 21, 2017

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