Arizona State University mascot Sparky came to Julia Randall Elementary School Aug. 13 to talk about what it takes to have good character.
Coordinating this assembly with Cindy Slick, who is a member of the ASU Sun Devil Club, several ASU football players left camp Tontozona training and headed to JRE with Sparky.
Using small skits followed by a question and answer period, the athletes and Sparky illustrated and discussed what character development looks like.
ASU has created a character program they named SPARKY, after its mascot. It stands for: S=self discipline, P=positive attitude, A=Active, R=Respect, K=Knowledge, Y=Yourself. The players brought worksheets as well as prizes of posters and pencils to reinforce the concepts.
Lori Standifird, counselor at JRE has a whole program to help teach character.
“At JRE we focus on the positives. Positive behavior, academics, environment and achievement,” said Standifird.
“Our character development program encourages our students to be H.E.R.O.s (Helping Everyone Respect Others being respectful, responsible and safe), while discouraging bullying behavior.
“Our students are immersed in the H.E.R.O. ‘culture’ as they are reminded daily of the H.E.R.O. pledge, wear H.E.R.O. rubber bracelets in Longhorn colors, and strive for true H.E.R.O. character rewarded with daily Longhorn Pride awards, weekly H.E.R.O. nominated recognition, and monthly Pizza with the Principal lunches.
“However, the highlight students look forward to are quarterly H.E.R.O. rallies.”
The ASU/Sparky assembly was one of the monthly rallies and the kids had a blast hugging Sparky and shaking hands with the football players.
But during most of the month, it’s the teachers who are the heart of these programs adding life and color: Jill Richard’s “War Cry” of “Be Respectful, Responsible and Safe,” and Diana Fletcher’s growing the group through team building games. The JRE music and band teacher Juli Davies has students sing songs of good character such as, “Check it Out.”
In conjunction with the H.E.R.O. program, teachers “Capture Kids Hearts” using the EXCEL (Engage, X-plore, Communicate, Empower, Launch) model. As part of this model, students are greeted each morning at their classroom door with a warm handshake from their teachers.
During the day, the relationship within the classroom is encouraged with “Good Things,” a time for students to share experiences and memories, further growing the group.
With 624 students at JRE, classroom “Social Contracts” help encourage good character as students build their classroom plan of behavior and sign their name to it.
Likewise, in moving the school from a Title I targeted funding school to a Title I schoolwide program, staff and administration developed a JRE mission statement to MOVE students.
At Julia Randall Elementary the goal is to Make instruction and learning count; Optimize learning opportunities so all students can learn Value, responsibility, trustworthiness, respect and safety; Empower student confidence and creativity.
This first rally with ASU football players and Sparky, was both a kick-off and reward for outstanding Longhorn H.E.R.O. students.