Her love for inspiring learning gave Gwen Valentino the edge when helping the local Kiwanis Club establish a BUG (Bringing Up Grades) program at San Antonio Elementary School this past Spring.
Valentino along with Kiwanis members Rex and Susan Myers, worked with students in David Hunter’s first and second grade class to begin a pilot program in their school. The goal was to inspire students to go one step further in advancing their learning. “Hunter gave us the standards he was trying to cover the last quarter of the school year, so the activities we brought in complimented his teaching schedule,” said Valentino
Kiwanis started the BUG program with a wide range of goals, according to Valentino. “Some kids wanted to do better in math, some in science, some students wanted to remember to bring in their homework each day. All of the kids set a goal from day one. Each week we worked to reinforce that goal. Ultimately we decided to focus on measurable goals, math and language arts.”
Kiwanians created a wind range of hands on learning activities for the students. “We played as spin off of BINGO, TIMEO using the face of a clock to help kids tell time, the old fashioned way. We also had the kids become the clock, putting 12 kids in a circle, arms-length apart. Then assigning them as hours 1-12 and minutes :00-:55. Next we'd call out a time and they would have to which arms to extend,” she said.
Kiwanians also brought in playdough to spell words and created geometric shapes. “We made a cootie catcher all about the Bosque Del Apache but the measured lesson was, could they follow directions? Could they listen and go step by step with the class? Or did they race ahead...and if they did, did they get stuck, if they got stuck what did they do next? Wait for the rest of us to catch up or disrupt class,” said Valentino.
They gave out snack prizes to encourage engagement, but really did not need them. The kids enjoyed learning and asked Kiwanians to come back over and over.
The traditional BUG program is to go into the school and create an excitement that we will come back and check on them at the end of the quarter or semester. However, in San Antonio's case, Kiwanis worked with the children very week to keep the excitement for the program alive.
And in the end, every student in Hunter’s class brought up their grades – which resulted in a Kiwanis sponsored pizza party at the end of the year for students.
What is Bring Up Grades?
Bring Up Grades or BUG is a program designed to provide recognition to students who raise their grades into an acceptable range and maintain or continue to raise them from one grading period to the next. Recognition includes being placed on the school’s BUG Honor Roll; a pizza, ice cream or other food-themed party; and presentation of certificates and buttons.
Who sponsors the program?
A Kiwanis-family club sponsors the program at the school and provides financial support and adult and youth mentors.
Can community businesses provide program support?
Yes, there are opportunities for local businesses to be involved. The Kiwanis-family club will establish partnerships with local businesses to secure support for the program. Sponsoring businesses have the option of providing coupons, giveaways or food for Bring Up Grades recognition events. In return, the business is promoted in Bring Up Grades and school materials shared with students and parents.
How does the program benefit students?
Students are empowered to participate in their own academic success, which builds self-confidence, perseverance and character. They attain important life skills known as developmental assets, that help them make smart choices. According to the Search Institute, an organization focused on helping youth succeed, the more developmental assets a student attains the less likely he or she is to participate in risky behavior and the more likely he or she is to succeed. Students also develop important social and emotional skills.