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Tickets for good behavior serve as school store currency 

Godfrey-Lee — Snacks are a hot commodity at the Dragon’s Den. 

High-schoolers visit the mascot-branded school store to buy Takis, hot Cheetos and cookies using golden tickets they have earned in class as currency. 

One to two tickets buys a snack or piece of candy. Bigger ticket items include T-shirts and hoodies, a pass to jump to the front of the lunch line or special experiences such as teacher rewards designed for students to make connections with teachers and administrators, Walker said. 

For 10 golden tickets, students can purchase a certificate for lunch or donuts with a teacher.

For 10 golden tickets, students can purchase a certificate for lunch or donuts with a teacher

In November, eighth-grader Angel Velazquez used his tickets to purchase the “Principal for the Day” coupon. 

“Angel did a great job,” Lee Middle School Principal Addie Rose recalled. “He helped make sure everyone got to class on time.” 

The Dragon’s Den officially launched at the beginning of the school year and is open to high-schoolers once a month. Middle-school teachers can schedule Friday morning visits for their students to spend their golden tickets. 

Special education teacher Matt Walker’s Extended Resource program students run the store.

No money is required, which helps eliminate barriers and incentivizes kind and respectful behaviors needed to earn golden tickets. They can also be entered into a raffle for bigger prizes or more golden tickets. 

Walker’s students, who are learning life skills and working toward a certificate of completion, cut out and distribute golden tickets to teachers every week. Teachers are encouraged to give 20 out to students per week, about four or five per day, to reinforce positive behaviors. 

Walker’s students also sign up for shifts to run the store while it’s open and are responsible to restock, take inventory and track their hours. 

Some of the bilingual Extended Resource students also help their peers communicate while using their golden tickets to purchase rewards at the store. 

Social worker Chelsey Diaz said the initiative has gone well since the fall,  and encourages positive behaviors.

Lee High School art students created posters for the Dragon’s Den, and students voted on one to hang near the entrance

“We are just starting off creating a Multi-Tiered System of Support in the building and really focusing on positive acknowledgment, clearly defined expectations and creating a positive school environment,” she said.

This year, the middle school also created the dean of students position, whose main responsibility is to oversee the social, emotional and behavioral aspects of MTSS and the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports programs. 

Focus on Consequences, Equity

District teachers and other staff members encourage elementary students to “go for the gold” through its PBIS program, which has evolved to better meet the needs of the student population. The district uses restorative practices, which focus on resolving conflict and healing relationships.

“Being transparent with our behavioral expectations at school is something we’ve been intentional about doing,” Diaz said. “We want to know if they align with what students are learning at home, because everyone has to buy into the expectations.” 

Diaz also said the school has sent surveys to students and parents to get feedback on their MTSS programs and include community members.

In a previous interview with SNN, Godfrey Elementary’s Dean of Students Alex Kuiper said, “PBIS started in a way that is very white-centered, and looking at the data, (punishments and suspensions) are given disproportionately to certain races of students over others. Moving toward ‘consequences’ and away from ‘reward and punishments’ models real life.” 

Lee Middle School’s Principal Addie Rose, right, with Peggy McCormick, the school’s first dean of students

The middle-school administration team also holds monthly assemblies to celebrate all students, even those who haven’t received a golden ticket yet this year. 

“We’re trying to make school a fun place to be, and (to) help students build on the strengths they already have,” Diaz said. 

Since opening the Dragon’s Den, she said, they’ve witnessed better behavior and attendance. 

“The Dragon’s Den helps create a positive and supportive school environment by reinforcing good behavior and promoting a sense of community,” Rose said. “It’s investing in a happier and more productive learning atmosphere for everyone.”

Lee Middle and High School also offers sponsorship levels for businesses or individuals to donate items, experiences or funds. For more information, email Principal Addie Rose at arose@godfrey-lee.org.

Read more from Godfrey-Lee: 
What’s your opinion? Students write about belonging
Opportunities + confidence = preparation

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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