Rewards system keeps Schultz students in check
Good behavior earns 'cash' that can buy rewards at class auctions
Schultz Elementary School fourth-grade students are learning how to balance a checkbook and be responsible with their money through the school's innovative rewards system.
All fourth-grade students at Schultz have a fake bank account, which they can fill with "money" for good behavior.
At the end of each nine weeks, the students can withdraw their money and write checks to the teacher in order to "purchase" a reward.
The rewards consist of donated items from parents and teachers. The items are auctioned off first and students can bid with the money they made.
Every day, the students start off with four quarters. They can have quarters deducted for bad behavior, but can earn additional quarters for good behavior.
At the end of the nine weeks, students can have up to $55 in their bank account. Every day, they balance their checkbook to include the new deposits they made.
Robin Thomas, Schultz fourth-grade teacher, said students are learning real-life skills such as balancing a checkbook, basic math skills and responsibility.
"They are pumped to earn this money," she said. "In all the 14 years I've done this, I've only had two kids say that they didn't care -- but I still think deep down they wanted to earn the money."
Students can earn money by asking questions when they don't understand something, following directions and participating in class discussions.
Thomas said some teachers have offered an additional $10 for students who complete all their homework and don't miss any assignments.
Students have money deducted when they forget to do their homework, talk while the teacher is talking during class, or fail to follow directions.
Thomas said some students at the end of the nine weeks have lost a lot of money and only have $20 at auction time.
"They realize pretty quick they need to step it up when they see how much money the other students have, and that they don't have enough to buy something they really want," she said.
Since students take part in the activity every nine weeks, they may save their money until the end of the school year if they choose.
Thomas had a special treat for the students at the end of the last nine weeks: She invited in a real auctioneer to run the bidding process and talk about how he became an auctioneer.
Harold Pfeifer, 92, told the class he didn't have enough money to go to college, so he worked on a farm and saved up money to purchase an auctioneering book.
He then taught himself how to be an auctioneer and worked at auctions for 60 years.
"This was such a good story for the students to hear about persistence," Thomas said. "He found something he wanted to do, he earned the money to do and it and he went for it."
Pfeifer auctioned off the many items that were available, such as stuffed animals, puzzles, books and stickers.
Thomas said one of the hot items was a ticket for "lunch with a teacher." The teacher would buy lunch for the student and they would eat together.
"We want to reward good behavior," she said. "We're all about that. We want to keep that going throughout the year."