Steamboat middle school students respond favorably to program |

Steamboat middle school students respond favorably to program

Steamboat Springs Middle School students, from left, Brittney Brown, Zoe Kirchner and Eric Kerbs wait for their turns at the middle school store Wednesday. Students can trade Know the Code cards for candy, toys and pizza. The cards are handed out as a reward for good behavior.
John F. Russell

— Parker Temple had no idea a simple gesture would be rewarded.

The seventh-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School just gave art teacher Susanmarie Oddo some music because he thought it would be nice.

“She doesn’t have the best music,” Parker said.

What happened next surprised him. Oddo gave him two Know the Code cards, which students earn for complying with the school’s code of safety, self-control, respect and responsibility. Students use the cards to buy snacks, candy and toys at the school store.

Wednesday was pizza day, and Parker walked away with a slice of pepperoni — as did many of his classmates.

Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter said Know the Code is part of the school’s Positive Behavior Interaction and Supports program. He said the program is intended to acknowledge good behavior.

“Most of the kids don’t need the reward, but it’s nice to acknowledge” good behavior, Buelter said. “If you only acknowledge the bad, that’s what you’re going to get. … The kids who struggle the most with good behavior react the most to rewards. It’s an incentive for them.”

He said faculty members teach the code at the beginning of each academic year and review it after winter break. He said the positive behavior program also addressed signage around the school, changing negatives to positives. And Buelter said it requires that teachers address students positively.

Buelter added that students aren’t rewarded every time. After the first couple of times, he said, they’re more likely to repeat good behavior.

“I think it’s really good because you work and then at the end of the week if you do good, you get a reward,” sixth-grader Trevor Pyle said. “I think it makes you work harder.”

Eighth-grader Kasey Kirkendall said she bought pizza with Know the Code cards for picking up trash and giving a pencil to a friend in class. Sixth-grader Kellyn Stanhope said she helped clean the art room. Eighth-grader Sam Rossman said he passed out papers for eighth-grade math and science teacher Mindy Mulliken, who injured her knee.

Buelter said the store has operated for several years but only recently has the behavior program been linked with it. He credited the program facilitator, eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher Amy Bohmer.

The store’s items range in price from a single card to 10 cards, depending on what students want to buy, said parent Beth Wendler, who runs the store. For example, she said a whoopee cushion costs one card, and a Nerf football costs 10.

Wendler, who has three children at the middle school, said it’s her goal to educate parents about the program and get the community more involved than it already is. She said Ciao Gelato provides the pizza at cost and an anonymous donor provided the store’s yearly budget of $2,400.

“The thing I love about doing this, all the kids have the opportunity to participate and benefit,” Wendler said. “It’s not something that just benefits one particular group or kind of kid. They all have the chance to display positive behavior to be a part of it.”

Parker Temple is among the many students who benefit from the program.

“I think it’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s an amazing program, and they should keep it going for a long time.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail

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