School motivates students to make non-violent choices by paying them

- The principal at a Southwest Philly elementary school decided to try something new to teach her students coping skills and financial literacy. If a student stays out of fights all year they will get $100. 

School Principal, Stephanie Andrewlevich, says using money as a motivator has created a positive impact in the behavior of the students at her school.

Mitchell Elementary school Southwest Philadelphia is filled with good kids and committed teachers but, like many other Philadelphia schools, they have their fair share of challenges.

“Our kids are walking through one of the most violent areas of the city every single day to get to school and if we don’t do something dramatic to create peaceful problem solvers within them, this is about their lives,” said Andrewlevich.

The school decided to try something outside the box.  Andrewlevich told her eighth grade students if they made it through the year without fighting they would each get one hundred dollars.

“If they can read and apply math and solve conflict peacefully and have stable finances nothing can stop them,” said Andrewlevich.

The kids didn’t just get cash, they received a bank account with the money in it and financial literacy training.  Each day they were recognized for another violence free day and slowly the peer pressure turned to proving the doubters wrong and maintaining peace.

One of the eighth graders, Mikel Lindsey, believes they just needed someone to show some faith.

He said, “It was about showing that we can make anything possible.”

“We actually came through with it, we showed that we can do things.  And people who say we can’t, we showed them,” said Lindsey.

The promise was made months ago, but Andrewlevich says the improvement was dramatic.

“Over 50 percent of our 8th grade students over the previous two years were suspended for fighting, this year we had less than 6 percent,” said Andrewlevich.

As word spread, more sponsors stepped in so the students left with not only some money and a checking account but chrome books and supplies for next year.

And now they’re off to high school with lessons and reputations worth far more than hundred bucks for goodness sake.

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