‘Dewey Do’s’ teach positive behavior
Dewey Elementary School Principal Andalib Khelghati talks to kindergartener Tatiana Richardson at the school in Evanston. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:58AM
EVANSTON — Dewey Elementary School principal Andalib Khelghati broke off nearly mid-sentence his conversation with a visitor last week when a student asked if he would help her open her locker.
“I’d be happy to,’’ said the principal, reaching down to unlatch Tatiana Richardson’s locker.
“Thank you,’’ said the kindergartener.
“Thank you, for being so courteous,” Khelghati responded.
A case of “Dewy Do’s”, positive behavior principles, in action, and totally unscripted.
“I call that a school miracle,” said Khelghati about the exchange. “They happen all the time.”
Khelghati, teachers, and roughly 500 excited Dewey students had just emerged from a refresher course on the “Dewey Do’s,” as portrayed through a fun-hearted skit put on in the school gymnasium.
Members of Dewey’s award- winning Positive Behavior Intervention and Support team put on the skit, which emphasized the Dewey Do’s: “Be Respectful, Be Safe, Be Caring and Be Here, Be Read.”
Dewey drama teacher Sandy Snyder wrote the skit in the context of a mystery, “Who Stole the Golden Tiger Ticket?”
Fifth-grade teacher Guy Engelman took the Scooby Doo theme song and inserted some of the “Dewey Do’s,” with students singing along at some points.
Members of the PBIS committee put on two assemblies during the school year – one at the start of the school, and then another in January, following winter break, highlighting the principles.
Coming off break, said Khelghati, “we wanted to reinforce their strengths and highlight what we want to focus on the rest of the year.”
The principles are on view well beyond the assemblies. Looking down the hallway, visitors see red banners, “Be Respectful, Be Safe, Be Here, Be Ready.”
“Throughout the building on a daily and weekly basis, the kids, the teachers, we talk about our core values,” the principal said.
The emphasis is meant as a pre-emptive tool to be used against bullying, said Khelghati, and Maggie Mosley, a social worker at the school.
The Dewey Do’s are “a very essential part of the school culture and the environment,” Mosley said.
Rather than mentioning the word “bullying,” officials prefer to focus on the Do’s, giving kids a tool on what they would do if someone was not acting respectful or caring, she said.
Students are given blue reward tickets for carrying out the behaviors. Should their behavior fall outside, as is inevitable in a school environment, “it gives us a framework to talk about things that happen,” said Khelghati.
Dewey students at the assembly seemed old hands, even singing along with the theme song, where the Do’s were inserted.
Ambrea Gentle, a fifth-grader and member of the school’s basketball team, said the Dewey Do’s extend into all phases of her life.
“It teaches us to be always dedicated, how to work together and figure out things,” she said.
Luci Lobin and Quintin Brown, both fourth-graders, maintained the skit itself had a curative effect.
Away from school, “it was kind of tempting,” confessed Lobin, to break out in a run inside buildings, which could skirt the “Be Careful, Be Safe,” rules. Back in school, she said mindfully, “I have to remember we can be even better role models for little kids.”