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Setting the table for rock star perks

Every day one table stands out in the Ridgeview Elementary cafeteria. It is set with a festive tablecloth and colorful centerpieces. And each of the special guest diners will find a few small tokens of appreciation.

Every day the special lunch table is set by Ashley Gebert,who implemented the activity meant to encourage good behavior during lunch.

First grader Edison Noto clearly enjoys his lunch

Gebert has been employed with the district for three years, first as a playground aide and now as a lunchroom aide.

Noticing students hurrying through the lunch line, forgetting to properly dispose of trash and recyclables, and feeling frustrated by extra loud voices, she came up with her idea.

Each day a few students are singled out by the lunchroom staff and teachers as rock stars — those who did an exceptionally good job at obeying all the rules. Those rules include staying in line, keeping voices at acceptable levels, finishing on time and cleaning up properly.

The next day the rock stars are invited to the “lunch table.”

First grader Edison Noto, who recently got a turn in the prime dining experience, understands why he was sitting there. “I am one who likes to obey the rules, and I am quiet a lot,” he said.

Charleigh Kober expressed a similar view. “I think I got picked because I am so quiet,” she said.

Edison’s cousin Jase Noto and Charleigh’s friend Serveriano Chavez were special guests on this day.

“Each rock star gets to choose someone to sit with them,” said Gebert. “It is just one of the many perks. They also get these treats and they get to jump the lunch line.”

Lunch aide Ashley Gebert gets the table ready for the day’s rock star students

Program May Expand

This is the first year for the Ridgeview Elementary lunch table, but it likely won’t be the last.

 “When we looked at the behavioral referral data, there has been a reduction in behavioral corrections by 85 percent since the implementation of this positive reward system,” said Jodi West, Kent School Services Network coordinator, who is part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team for the school.

KSSN coordinators support children and families in schools, help those who need special support and focus on issues surrounding behavior and attendance.

District behavioral specialist at Ridgeview, Kristy Wolford, agrees the “lunch table” is working. “This is such a great success, I heard that they are thinking about trying it at the middle school too,” she told Gebert as she walked by the special table.

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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