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FRPS introduces new program to build students' character

by Ariana Diaz

Southeast Sun
Fort Rucker, AL | August 13, 2013

As schools on Fort Rucker opened up their doors Aug. 6 for thefirst day of classes, Fort Rucker Primary School introduced a new characterdevelopment program called, "Bucket Filling."

Bucket Filling is a pilot program being introduced to the nearly350 students at FRPS and is aimed at cutting down on discipline referrals aswell as boosting the students' positive self-esteems.

"The concept is if you do kind things (and) say kind things forother people than you are not only helping them to feel good about themselves,but actually filling your bucket," Sylvia Thorton, FRPS music teacher andpublicity officer said.

In the program, every student, faculty and staff member are eachgiven a bucket. The buckets can either be filled or dipped into depending onthe words or actions shared by each person.

Bucket filling is saying or doing something kind to others, suchas a giving someone a smile, helping others, giving compliments or showingrespect toward others.

Whereas bucket dipping is saying or doing unkind things such asmaking fun of someone, refusing to help, being intentionally disrespectful orbullying.

"Dipping in their bucket, your making them feel bad, but youalso 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 payingcompliments to each other throughout the day."

To implement the program to all grade levels, the pre-k andkindergarten classes are using a slightly different strategy than the firstgraders.

When first graders are bucket fillers they write a small note andplace it into someone's bucket or they may find a note in their own bucket fordoing or saying something kind. However, since pre-k and kindergarten studentsare unable to read and write complete sentences, they either receive a craftpom pom in their own bucket or give someone else one.

Teachers and support staff are also getting in on the bucketfilling 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 atthe main entrance of the school.

Thorton said the main objectives of the program are to boostmorale and cut down on discipline referrals, but the program is not being usedas a discipline measure.

Although, students can be bucket dippers, no buckets are actuallybeing dipped into. Teachers cannot remove pom poms or notes; they have to usetheir own discipline measures.

The program is not a specified curriculum either, rather, a lessonplan or coordinated effort by all teachers in the school.

"(The students are) not constantly just going and (addingnotes or pom poms) all day long," Thorton said. "We've left it up tothe 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 LindsayJeter read the book to the students and had them each describe what being abucket filler means.

"(It's) when we be nice or do something nice, somebody, orus, puts a little something in our buckets," First grade student ClaireFreeman said.

In the next activity Jeter had the students make a bucket boy orgirl 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 fancyscissors. 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 fillerbecause here they have plenty of reminders, and they will all year, but at homesome 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 yearlong, that is something that is great for being able to say, 'Is this personbeing a bucket filler?'" she said. "There's just so manyopportunities 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 basicteaching tool at schools around the country. For more information on theprogram, visit

"The kids seem to beexcited about it," Thorton said.

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