Local Houston Businesses Team up with the ABBIT Society to Encourage Academic Achievement
Read below for a testimony from Sandy Wood Dunham, founder of the ABBIT Society, about her innovative business-education partnership that gives incentives to children to excel in school.
“In 1986, my goal was to ‘do something’ about the education problems teachers face in this country. As a former 5th grade teacher at a middle school in Marshall, Texas, I accomplished that goal. Now, because of a Houston area bank’s involvement with my program, I’ve discovered a way for corporate America to really do something for education in this country.
Coming from a family of school teachers, I knew that a major concern for teachers everywhere is that students “don’t care” about doing their best work in the classroom. It’s hard to teach students at any level if they’re not interested in doing well, in giving their best effort, and in making good grades.
My theory was that students need recognition, rewards, and benefits – just as working adults get when they go to their jobs every day. Working adults are generally motivated by the title behind their name, the insurance, the retirement benefits, or the paycheck. However, we expect elementary students to walk into a classroom, every day, motivated to do their best work for grades! This isn’t logical, and it’s why teachers are frustrated and exhausted. How do you teach someone if they aren’t even slightly motivated to achieve?
Since founding my program, The ABBIT Society (ABBIT stands for “A’s and B’s Because I Try!”), I have focused on motivating elementary age students to do their best work in the classroom – to care about their grades. When I tested my program and ideas at the 5th/6th grade school where I was teaching, the school’s A & B honors roll increased 48% during the second grading period after I introduced the program. Teachers began reporting that students who normally didn’t care about their grades were asking how to bring their grades up. ABBIT, as it is usually referred to, was working.
Here’s how it works. When a student makes the required A’s and B’s on their report card and they have satisfactory conduct in the classroom, they are presented an ABBIT membership card. They are also given a list of local businesses that have agreed to recognize the cards when students visit the business. The cards are dated to show when the card is valid. Students must earn new cards by making the required grades for membership, each time report cards are issued.
In this community, the students are invited to show their ABBIT cards at the bank. The bank employees make a big deal out of the students’ accomplishments in the classroom and they award the students with a specialty item - such as a nylon lunch bag featuring the bank name and logo on it. Also, in that same community, a florist gives the students a flower when they visit with their valid membership card. Other businesses follow suit. Students learn that doing well in the classroom is important. They learn how good success feels when it’s earned and recognized by important people in the community. They learn what it takes to be successful in the classroom.
The study habits they develop are important tools for the foundation of their education. It is only reasonable to conclude that a student who is successful at the elementary level is more likely to be successful at the secondary level. A student successful at the secondary level is more likely to attend college.
This program also helps business in return. Because the bank is providing ABBIT membership cards to schools in their communities, they have increased walk-in traffic. Parents, accompanying their children when they visit the bank, are appreciative of the attention their children are getting. All in all, the ABBIT Society is beneficial for all parties included.”