As schools on Fort Rucker opened up their doors Aug. 6 for the first day of classes, Fort Rucker Primary School introduced a new character development program called, "Bucket Filling."
Bucket Filling is a pilot program being introduced to the nearly 350 students at FRPS and is aimed at cutting down on discipline referrals as well as boosting the students' positive self-esteems.
"The concept is if you do kind things (and) say kind things for other people than you are not only helping them to feel good about themselves, but actually filling your bucket," Sylvia Thorton, FRPS music teacher and publicity officer said.
In the program, every student, faculty and staff member are each given a bucket. The buckets can either be filled or dipped into depending on the words or actions shared by each person.
Bucket filling is saying or doing something kind to others, such as a giving someone a smile, helping others, giving compliments or showing respect toward others.
Whereas bucket dipping is saying or doing unkind things such as making fun of someone, refusing to help, being intentionally disrespectful or bullying.
"Dipping in their bucket, your making them feel bad, but you also dip into your own bucket because it makes you feel sad or angry," Thorton said. "We're trying to help them be bucket fillers by paying compliments to each other throughout the day."
To implement the program to all grade levels, the pre-k and kindergarten classes are using a slightly different strategy than the first graders.
When first graders are bucket fillers they write a small note and place it into someone's bucket or they may find a note in their own bucket for doing or saying something kind. However, since pre-k and kindergarten students are unable to read and write complete sentences, they either receive a craft pom pom in their own bucket or give someone else one.
Teachers and support staff are also getting in on the bucket filling by having their own buckets in the workrooms for professional comments. Parents and visitors can also join in by adding a note to the bucket located at the main entrance of the school.
Thorton said the main objectives of the program are to boost morale and cut down on discipline referrals, but the program is not being used as a discipline measure.
Although, students can be bucket dippers, no buckets are actually being dipped into. Teachers cannot remove pom poms or notes; they have to use their own discipline measures.
The program is not a specified curriculum either, rather, a lesson plan or coordinated effort by all teachers in the school.
"(The students are) not constantly just going and (adding notes or pom poms) all day long," Thorton said. "We've left it up to the teachers (to decide) when they're going to do it, like a group activity (where) the students are sharing."
To introduce the concept to her first grade class, teacher Lindsay Jeter read the book to the students and had them each describe what being a bucket filler means.
"(It's) when we be nice or do something nice, somebody, or us, puts a little something in our buckets," First grade student Claire Freeman said.
In the next activity Jeter had the students make a bucket boy or girl and sign a pledge that they would try to become bucket fillers.
"We made a bucket filler guy or girl," Freeman said. "We decorate the bucket and then we got a pencil and paper and fancy scissors. We colored a box and wrote a word on it and then we put five words, whatever we wanted it to be around."
The pledges then go home with the kids to hang somewhere.
"It is a reminder to them at home how to be a bucket filler because here they have plenty of reminders, and they will all year, but at home some of the kids might not have positive reinforcements," Jeter said.
Jeter said the concept could work in many different ways.
"Anytime we're talking about a character, anytime, all year long, that is something that is great for being able to say, 'Is this person being a bucket filler?'" she said. "There's just so many opportunities within the day to say, 'How can you be a bucket filler?"
The bucket filler concept at FRPS was developed after author, Carol McCloud's, "Have you filled a bucket today."
The book is a winner of nine awards and has become a basic teaching tool at schools around the country. For more information on the program, visit Bucketfillers101.com.
"The kids seem to be excited about it," Thorton said.