Motivating residents to do well in school can be challenging. At The Barry Robinson Center (BRC), teachers and teacher assistants use creative strategies to help residents stay focused on academics during their treatment. A new school store is the latest initiative to support them.
Jhane Thornton, a teacher assistant, developed the concept for the store. The store’s name – The BRX – has a familiar ring to military-connected youth familiar with shopping on military bases at a post exchange.
“I wanted to create something that would motivate residents to excel in their studies. My goal was to provide a system that encouraged them to stay on task and complete their work. By doing so, it would in turn boost the morale of the school and create an academically successful environment,” she explained. “I also wanted to incorporate a piece of their schools back home in order to give them a sense of familiarity and comfort.”
The store – a repurposed closet – has school supplies and tangible coping skills/fidgets suitable for a school setting. Items include brain teasers, putty, stress balls, highlighters, markers, pencils, pens, journals, folders, motivational wall art, and stickers.
“Our residents are really excited about the school store. They provided feedback on the items and prices, and I did take their input into consideration,” Thornton said. “Every Thursday and Friday I have a line of eager kids outside of the store. Also, when they see me, they tell me how many bucks they’ve received.”
Feedback from her colleagues echoes the residents’ excitement. Eric Krumich, vice president of education, welcomed Thornton’s concept.
“This is something most schools do, and kids love to have access to the store,” he said. “As Jhane said, building in more rewards like this keeps our culture positive.”
Thornton, a BRC team member for about four years, appreciates the collaborative work environment and support from her colleagues. She pointed out several other teacher assistants who worked with her to develop the store.
“One thing I love about the Education department is how supportive EVERYONE is on extra-curricular projects geared toward bettering each resident’s stay,” she said. “Everyone has been so involved and helpful. They give feedback, new ideas, and helping hands. I don’t even have to ask. They come to me and ask, “How can I help?”
As key members of the education team, Thornton and other teacher assistants provide important support to residents throughout the school day. They’re focused on BRC’s mission of improving the lives of children.
“I am able to give them positive vibes about school and encourage them to see that education is important, and it can be fun as well,” Thornton said. “Life is what you make it, and I want to be one of many influential leaders they’ll encounter that will teach them to make the best of every situation and task in life.”