Lincoln Elementary School Shines The ‘Spotlight’ On Students

Lincoln Elementary School Principal Katie Russo congratulates "Spotlight Student" Annika Ricker.

“You know if you are the Spotlight Student that I call your parents to tell them about the award. I know your mom has already heard about it. Is there someone else you’d like me to call?” asked Lincoln Elementary School Principal Katie Russo to second-grader Annika Ricker while pinning a “Spotlight Student” button on her shirt.

“My dad,” Annika said.

“Great, when I call him at work I will let him know exactly what I read on the morning announcements. You are doing such a great job!”

Lincoln Elementary School’s PBIS (Positive Behaviors Interventions & Supports) Team came up with the idea for a “Spotlight Student” last summer. In the past, Mrs. Russo occasionally did “Principal Shout-Outs” on the morning announcements and the team decided to make a more consistent program to recognize students.

Any staff member can nominate a student through an electronic form, which is linked to a spreadsheet where Mrs. Russo keeps track of who has been nominated and honored. It is very important to have a system to track the award so that the school isn’t missing or duplicating students. The nominating criterion for a Spotlight Student is being a role model for respect, responsibility and safety at Lincoln School.

The program is used as a motivator for all students. Lincoln School is seeing and hearing more and more kids talk about what they have to do in order to be nominated. Mrs. Russo reads the staff member’s nomination on the morning announcements each day with UPK/K student on Monday, first-grader on Tuesday, second grader on Wednesday, third grader on Thursday and fourth grader on Friday.

The Spotlight Students comes to the office and gets to wear a button all day so that other students and staff can acknowledge the student.

“We make a really big deal about being chosen,” said Mrs. Russo. “The student has his or her picture taken and placed on display in the front hall. The best part of the program is that the spotlight student can select a member of his or her family that I will personally call and share the good news. This has been so AWESOME. I make a positive phone each and everyday and the reactions I have received from family have been positive. Normally people aren’t accustomed to hearing from the principal with good news. It has been a great way to strengthen the relationship between school and home.”

The student receives the photograph to take home after it is taken down along with the nomination and a certificate. The school is thrilled with the response to the program and plans on continuing it next year.