A few weeks ago, Emerald came home telling us about an honor at school she wanted to apply for. It was called a Gold Card and it came with all kinds of privileges, as shown in the photo below.*
*HAC is their middle school’s version of recess.
To be considered, a student had to complete an application (which was basically, name, home room teacher’s name, sixth grade team name, and date), and write an essay as to how the student thought he/she meets the criteria for a Gold Card.
The criteria are the main reason I’m writing this blog post. Instead of being about popularity, or grades, or athletic achievement, the Cougar Gold Card is all about a kid’s behavior at school. To earn a Gold Card, a student must treat his/her peers well; take direction from and be respectful to, the adults at school; take personal responsibility for his/her own learning; and follow school rules (each of which had specific bullet points to explain exactly what is expected).
The application states that the Gold Card “is a tangible symbol that recognizes students who demonstrate specific, responsible behaviors. . . Possession of a Gold Card means that you can honestly say, ‘I am responsible. I am trusted. I can handle making choices, and I exhibit positive behaviors the majority of the time. I am licensed to make choices and accept responsibilities identified on my Gold Card.'”
The Gold Card is only valid for one 9-weeks. Students much reapply every term and the card can be revoked if the student does not maintain the behavior that led to the award in the first place. Students who applied but did not receive a Gold Card this time were told individually and privately what they could do better in the future to better qualify for one next time.
I do not have enough good things to say about this idea. This card rewards, even honors, kids for behaving well. It’s not about the end result (academic or other achievement). It’s about the approach to learning and being a good citizen. This sort of thing teaches kids that success is not the only important thing. Treating others well and taking responsibility for your own actions is important, too.
Of course, I can’t end this post without telling you how Emerald’s application was received. Last week, just after Jim picked her up from school, I received a text from him that was just a picture of our very happy, very proud 11-year-old wearing her Gold Card around her neck. It looked much like this.