We are into our 2nd six weeks of school and time is flying! The Elementary and Jr. High students have been working so hard and we are so proud of them! There are so many great things happening in our schools – It is a GREAT time to be in Mason!Our entire school had the privilege of having a wonderful speaker on September 21, 2011. His name was Justin Lookadoo. Justin is an award winning author and motivational speaker. He spoke to our Elementary students about making great decisions and character choices. He used different characters and props to help convey his messages. Justin also spoke to our Jr. High students. He talked in depth about bullying and how to handle bullies. He discussed how bystanders can be helpful and vital in putting an end to the bullying as well. He discussed decision making and encouraged them to make the right choices even when others try to sway you. The students were engaged in the presentations and there was lots of learning through laughter taking place! On October 7th, we took our 7th and 8th grade students to the high school for a wonderful career day presentation. There were so many terrific speakers— The students learned about careers from software development to journalism to engineering! We were so honored to be invited by the high school; it was a big treat for us. October 9th-15th was Fire Prevention Week. We were so happy to have some fantastic firemen come talk to us: Clyde Martin, Jared Carter, Josh Bradley, Thach Martin, Charlie Grosse, Earl Koche, and Thain Martin came to the Elementary playground with 3 fire trucks and discussed the importance of Fire Safety with Pre K -2nd grade. The children learned so much and we are so grateful to them for sharing with us. I am so excited to report that in the 7th grade we had 27 students qualify to participate in Duke University Talent Identification Program, or Duke TIP for short! Since 1980, Duke University has served as a resource to help motivate students to focus on their academic achievement, reward positive performance, and provide students with information and independent learning opportunities. There is a search for 4th and 5th graders and also one for 7th graders. Students had to make a 95% or better on a qualifying test in order to be eligible to participate in the Duke TIP.Next, I would like to explain our character education at Mason Elementary; we use a character guidance program called, Character Counts! It is a character curriculum created by the Josepheson Institute of Ethics. The program is designed to help students develop the skills they need to make good choices in their lives every day.Every six weeks we discuss a different “pillar” of character. The pillars are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. To reinforce the pillars, the entire Elementary staff can write “Puncher Pride Awards” to the students for performing kind deeds and going the extra mile to help another person. Some examples of students being “caught doing good deeds” are: opening the door for others, helping a friend, pushing in chairs in the cafeteria, etc. When a student receives a Puncher Pride Award, they are announced at our Monday morning assembly and then they are entered in a drawing for a special prize at the end of every six weeks. We give two prizes each six weeks. A special “Thank You” to the staff for spending the extra time to write all those Puncher Pride Awards! Around the corner at Mason Junior High, we will be having character lessons on Internet Safety, bullying, adolescent health, etc. Shortly, we will begin our program to help reinforce student success in the classroom. The name of the program is “P-T-P”, or “It Pays to Perform”. Our hope is that this program will offer a little extra incentive to all students who try their best every day in the classroom. Our program will be based on a reward system in each core class. The students will be given opportunities to earn “tickets” for their class jar. These tickets will be given at the discretion of the classroom teachers. At the end of the year, Mr. Askins and I will have a drawing for special prizes for two students from every class. One of my favorite parts of being the counselor at Mason Elementary and Jr. High is getting to visit with the students and discussing our Character Education Lessons. This past six weeks, when I visited the Elementary students we discussed trustworthiness and gratitude. We discussed how important it is to say thank you and be grateful for all we are given. We talked about how saying ‘thank you’ seems simple, but it means so much to the one who receives it. In the Jr. High, I visited the students in 5th-8th grades and we talked in depth about internet safety, texting, and treating others as we would like to be treated. I also discussed the “Talk About It” program (see below) and showed them how to get into the program and use it. Lastly, I would like to add a very special thank you to all the parents, guardians, extended family and friends of all of our Mason students. Our students amaze us every day and we know it comes from all of your love and support. 2011-2012 is going to be a terrific year!