Gehlen Elementary principal sends ‘Sweet Tweets’ to students
LE MARS — Gehlen Catholic’s Preschool-6th Grade Principal Lorie Nussbaum, faculty and staff have been sending “Sweet Tweets” to our elementary students.
If you think “Sweet Tweets” are “sweet treats,” try again. “Sweet Tweets” are a takeoff of Twitter.
“Sweet Tweets” is another way, beyond Bird Tracks, Breakfast with the Birds, Class and Student of the Week, weekly teacher recognition and more to recognize and celebrate student positive behavior choices through PBIS.
PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all youth by making targeted misbehavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.
Since Gehlen Catholic’s mascot is the Jay Bird and the PBIS program at Gehlen Catholic is centered around the “BIRDS” (Be Positive, Imitate Jesus, Respect Self and Others, Do Your Best and Show Responsibility), Nussbaum thought it would be fun to send “tweets” to students who are making great behavior choices and follow the BIRDS expectations.
Even though it is winter time and many birds fly south for the winter, “Sweet Tweets” are flying high throughout Gehlen Catholic School and the Le Mars area.
Nussbaum elaborated, “Starting the second semester of this school year, any staff member may send a Sweet Tweet to a student. The student receives a Sweet Tweet note stating which of the expectations he/she has demonstrated. Specifics may be added. Each is also given a bird cut-out upon which he/she can write his/her name and check the behavior as well as include specifics if desired. The note goes home to share with parents and the bird cut-out may be added to the ‘Sweet Tweets’ bulletin board if the student desires. The bulletin board depicts telephone lines on which birds often sit. All who pass by may admire students and their great behavior choices.”
Gehlen Catholic third grade teacher Jodi Sitzmann articulated, “Typically, the students do their best and strive to work hard. Positive feedback helps push those who aren’t motivated to do their best all of the time and strive for excellence.”
Sitzmann, in the first four and a half weeks of the program is inspiring the students to work harder. She sees more students imitating the good behaviors of their classmates and others because they see and hear how it is the right thing to do.
Sitzmann awarded a “Sweet Tweet” to one of her students recently. The student volunteered, without being requested, to write down an assignment for a sick classmate. Sitzmann felt this student exemplified the student’s choice to imitate Jesus by documenting the class’ notes for her sick classmates.
Halle Walgenbach, the daughter of Jacob and Joell Walgenbach of Granville, has enjoyed receiving her “Sweet Tweets.”
Walgenbach said, “Through the ‘Sweet Tweets,’ I have learned to be more responsible for my actions and better show respect to others and myself. The ‘Sweet Tweets’ reinforce the Catholic Church’s and my religion class’ teachings to love your neighbor as Jesus did by following the BIRDS rules.”
Walgenbach’s parents noted the “Sweet Tweets” also emulates her parents’ teachings to make good choices by being a good person and respecting others. Halle epitomizes those values when she is away from school by listening to and helping her parents, helping her brothers (one of whom is in a wheelchair), cleaning her room, and respecting others wherever she is at. Walgenbach’s “Sweet Tweets” at home include having friends over and participating in various sports.
Walgenbach has been recognized throughout the year at Gehlen Catholic as the Star Student of the Week and Breakfast with the Birds with Nussbaum.
Since the start of “Sweet Tweets,” Nussbaum concluded, a total of 100 “Sweet Tweets” have been issued and the “telephone lines” continue to fill. The current tweets are cleared every four weeks. The board quickly fills again. “What a joy,” she exclaimed, “to recognize our students for all of their good choices.”