Gateway: Living

Students build character, leadership skills through Kiwanis Club’s TERRIFIC Kids program

Late last month at Purdy Elementary, from left, student teacher Kendall Waage, fourth grade teacher Amy Reuling, first grade teacher Jane Hansen and second-grader Thomas Marzano participate in a skit about Purdy’s Terrific Kids program.
Late last month at Purdy Elementary, from left, student teacher Kendall Waage, fourth grade teacher Amy Reuling, first grade teacher Jane Hansen and second-grader Thomas Marzano participate in a skit about Purdy’s Terrific Kids program. Special to the Gateway

Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club president Jeni Mallory invited me to join her and fellow Kiwanis member Beth Harvey, the current club chair for the Kiwanis Terrific Kids program, at Purdy Elementary for their awards program. You should have seen the expressions on the kids faces as they or their fellow students received the awards. It was drizzling outdoors but the school was flooded with sunshine.

Fifth-grader Addison Sebren showed that glow, saying, “I like it that my parents came. It was a surprise to get the award.”

Gig Harbor Kiwanis has sponsored Terrific Kids for years. Harvey oversees the program and communicates with school coordinators Maureen Matthews at Artondale Elementary and Karra Lantz at Purdy Elementary to make sure the schools have the well-known Terrific Kids bumper stickers and pencils. Assemblies are held monthly at both schools. Each school assimilates the Terrific Kid theme with its own approach to recognizing students.

“I like to watch my friends get the awards, and I like the pencils, too,” declared first-grader Evan Michel.

Mallory said, “I find it rewarding when I observe so many children receive positive recognition. It is a delight to see their expressions when they receive this special reward.”

Terrific Kids is a student-recognition program promoting character development, self-esteem and perseverance. “TERRIFIC” is an acronym for Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive and Capable. Students work with classroom teachers to establish goals to improve behavior, peer relationships, attendance or school work. All students who achieve their goals after a specified time are recognized as Terrific Kids.

That’s what the assembly was all about.

Fourth-grader Sean Roberts asserted that it “feels good and makes me proud when you get the certificate.”

Mallory explained that students build character and develop leadership skills in the program.

“They attain important life skills known as developmental assets that help them make smart choices,” she said. “According to the Search Institute, an organization focused on helping youth succeed, the more developmental assets students attain, the less likely they are to participate in risky behavior and the more likely they are to succeed.

“The program provides teachers with a tool to reward students who may otherwise go unnoticed. Students focus on learning and practicing good character. This improves behavior in the classroom, on school grounds and at home.”

Second-grader Samantha Hendrickson noted, “I like to hear the nice things teachers write on the certificates.”

Her classmate, Javy Basa, said, “I like the pencils. It reminds me of doing great.”

That’s because you’re DOING GREAT!

For more information, contact Lantz, the Purdy Elementary counselor, at 253-530-4630 or Mallory, the Gig Harbor Kiwanis president, at 253-691-7085.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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