Good behavior, helping out literally pays off for Lincoln kids

Lincoln Elementary School third-graders line up at the Abe Bucks Bookstore on Wednesday, Sept. 2, to spend the “Abe Bucks” they have earned. Pictured (from left to right) are students Jeremiah Davenriner, Sierra Davenriner and John Setser and bookstore helpers Amy Vickery, art teacher, and Marilyn Rumple, music teacher.
Lincoln Elementary School third-graders line up at the Abe Bucks Bookstore on Wednesday, Sept. 2, to spend the “Abe Bucks” they have earned. Pictured (from left to right) are students Jeremiah Davenriner, Sierra Davenriner and John Setser and bookstore helpers Amy Vickery, art teacher, and Marilyn Rumple, music teacher. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 7, 2015.

Sally Morrison’s first-grade class marches in line in the halls of Lincoln Elementary School early on a Wednesday morning, eager to go shopping. Many are clutching envelopes that look stuffed full; others are carrying little green pieces of paper that were hard-earned.

“I’ve got 20,” says one little girl, holding up her envelope. Not to be outdone, other students raise their “wallets” as well, boasting they have earned 40, even as much as 80 of the school’s precious “Lincoln Bucks.”

It’s Lincoln Elementary’s way of rewarding good behavior or a job well done _ a buck for completing a task or just caught being “good.” Children earn their Lincoln Bucks, then get to go spend them.

Dr. Adam Drummond, the school’s principal, says the Lincoln Bucks incentive is part of the school’s vision statement about being a community of excellence, as well as its mission of encouraging student success.

“That’s expecting high expectations and following through with those,” he explains. “We started talking about what’s the type of community that we want to have, and we want our students to leave and go be productive citizens, and part of being productive citizens is being able to utilize the resources that are in your community.

“So that just got us talking about our community, and part of our community is a dollar system. And having money also allows you to purchase and there are times that you need to save, in order to buy something special that you want.”

Kids earn their Abe Bucks in a variety of ways.

“They earn Abe Bucks by doing jobs in their classroom,” says Lincoln music teacher Marilyn Rumple, who also sells items at the Abe Bucks Bookstore. “It’s a way that they can earn the money themselves, decide what they want to buy. Sometimes they have to save up so they can buy something that costs more, so they learn a little bit about math and spending and saving.”

Even cafeteria workers and bus drivers can reward their charges’ good behavior with an Abe Buck.

“You have to do your job, listen, be helpful and you gotta be really quiet,” says third grader John Setser, who says he has used his bucks to purchase stickers.

“Jobs” may include washing the chalkboard, turning off lights, putting up chairs at the end of the day and having parents sign their log books, in which pupils write their reflections of their school day experience.

“They also get them over and above following procedures, if they do something especially nice for somebody else then they’ll get rewarded an Abe Buck,” says art teacher Amy Vickery, who also staffs the bookstore. “There are lots of ways they can earn them.”

Abe Bucks are paid to students on a weekly basis, and they shop at the bookstore once per week. There are no loans — kids have to either save up their bucks if they want to purchase a more expensive item or settle for buying something cheaper.

Third-grade student Emma Leidig had five Abe Bucks, purchasing a bookmark with four of them.

She said she will hang on to the one she has left.

“I’m going to save it up and I’m going to earn some more Abe Bucks,” she says, confidently.

Lincoln Elementary was recently honored by the Indiana Department of Education as a 2015-16 Family Friendly School, which recognized Lincoln’s incorporating the community into the village of educating its children.

Drummond says local businesses such as Teachers Credit Union, Wells Fargo and First Federal Savings Bank have donated items to its Abe Bucks Bookstore, including pencils and pens, notebooks, art supplies and books.

Classrooms take turns going to the store before class begins in the morning, Abe Bucks in hand.

Some of the more unusual items that can be purchased include personal hygiene items such as soap and toothbrushes. Kids can also buy a lunch date or play chess with the principal, read a book with library clerk Diane Arnold, or buy computer time with paraprofessional Kim Barker in the school’s computer lab.

“We also have a drawing each month where (the students) can put their name in for a chance to win a special prize at the end of the month, that’s a one-of-a-kind thing,” Rumple says, adding that each chance costs 10 Abe Bucks.

Drummond says the students are learning lifelong skills they can take into the real world, as well as taking advantage of other positive incentives.

“Even though this is an economy system that you can’t use these dollars anywhere, here in the school they’re just like real dollars. They spend like real dollars; you can lose them like real dollars,” he says.

“If you’re not at school you’re not going to get paid. It’s about you have to show up to work everyday in order to get a paycheck, and you have to show up to school every day in order to get your Abe Bucks.”