In 2014, I started a once-a-year opportunity for all staff members to award deserving students with medals. The spirit of this reward system is for all staff members to celebrate students with medals, and most importantly, personal conversations explaining the positive impacts that they have had on the school's campus.
Academic Awards celebrate students with one or more of the following qualities:
* High classroom GPA
* High standards of excellence
* Large degree of academic improvement
* Completion of an outstanding project
* Commitment to rigor
* Dedication to independent extension
Character Awards celebrate students with one or more of the following qualities:
* Resilience and Grit
* Humor (Appropriate)
(All medals for Westlake HS were produced by Lisa's Trophy Shop)
There are particular strengths of this system:
- It creates an authentic moment of celebration between staff and student.
- It involves all staff members, so the entire school is full of individual moments of celebration.
- It happens in small group settings, where celebration moments matter the most.
- It empowers staff, because there is flexibility in why they give the medals.
- It feels inclusive because it happens in every class period for all student populations.
- It feels meaningful and selective since only two people per class period receive them.
- It complements other award ceremonies, because it feels short and spontaneous.
- It involves medals, so students enjoy the presentation and the hardware.
- It becomes highly visible because students can wear the medals around their necks.
- It provides a "Wear Your Medal" opportunity the next Spirit Week.
Below are a few important answers to frequently asked questions:
- All staff members give Character Awards.
(For example, teachers, office staff, lunchroom staff, custodians, and administrators all give Character Awards.)
- Classroom teachers also give Academic Awards.
- Classroom teachers give one Character Award and one Academic Award per class period.
(For example, teachers who teach six class periods would award 12 students over all.)
- Medals are personally delivered to each teacher by one of our Student Editors for the Newspaper.
(Below is the distribution sheet that my students used to distribute 1,596 medals to teachers.)
Student of the Day Program
In 2015, I created a Student of Day program to give teachers a platform for celebrating fantastic students. Each week, I collected teacher recommendations for student celebrations and prepared a set of certificates. The certificates described why the students were receiving the award and were signed by two members of the administration and two students with leadership positions at the school. Each morning, the school spotlighted the Students of the Day on the morning announcements, and a small team of my students delivered the certificates and took a photograph of the student receiving the award.