If you’ve been waiting for Black Friday to do your Christmas shopping then you’re already behind the curve of Neuse Charter School third graders.
On Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, nearly 50 students in Mrs. Jennifer Cade and Mrs. Heather Hansley’s classes participated in their first Cougar Buck Store experience.
“Mr. Kiser started the Cougar Buck Store about three or four years ago,” said Cade, a 3rd grade math and science teacher at Neuse Charter. “I’ve done it ever since.”
Students earn Cougar Bucks for good grades and good behavior throughout a nine-week period, but they can also lose, or have to payback, bucks if behavior isn’t deemed acceptable.
“Of course we expect them to be good and responsible all the time,” said Cade, who has been teaching in the 3rd grade for four years. “But I think kids need rewards, something to look forward to…even as adults we like a Christmas bonus or a pat on the back.”
The store was filled with donated items ranging from pencils and candy to books and games. Items were priced anywhere from $25-$2000 and students were expected to calculate their purchases and add their money up for check-out.
Summer Vaughn, a 9-year-old in Hansley’s homeroom, enjoyed the experience. “It was fun. I bought a lot of small stuff. It taught me to use my math skills in counting, but somehow I still missed $300.”
Cade said the store not only serves as a reward, but it acts as a great math and economics lesson. “It teaches them the value of money. They start to realize what things cost and they learn to save.”
There are three stores throughout the year, but the ultimate shopping event comes at the end-of-the-year when the teachers host an auction. Students start to hoard their bucks more for the auction.
“After the first store we start to see behavior and grades getting better,” said Cade. “They try harder because they realize the reward.”
The first store was postponed due to a lack of donations, but Cade put out a plea to parents about the importance of the store.
“I believe in consistency and it broke my heart when we had to postpone the first one because I know how much they were looking forward to it,” Cade said.
If the goal of the store is to improve behavior then the first Cougar Buck Store of the school year was an overwhelming success. Students worked quickly and somewhat quietly to choose purchases for themselves and family members. With more than 40 students in one classroom searching through hundreds of items the system worked.
“They used their social skills and math skills to make wise purchases,” said Hansley. “It was a great learning experience.”