Bee kind: MES unveils mural, expectations

Milton Elementary School is buzzing about a new mural decorating the lobby, and the puns that go along with it: Bee kind, bee safe and bee ready to learn.

The mural, painted by Milton parent Nina Reinhardt, displays a bright green landscape and blue sky with three bees and their respective statements. Each represents a behavior expectation from the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system, assistant principal Angela Filion said.

“It sets the tone for the school,” Reinhardt said. “If you walk into a happy, upbeat, fun atmosphere, the kids are gonna say, ‘Wow, look at this!’”

She was right. Last Friday morning, three youngsters walked into the lobby to take a closer look at the painting. When they realized the bees showcased more than Milton’s Yellowjacket mascot, their eyes popped with awe.

TOP: L to R: Fourth-graders Logan Bushey, Carson Smet and Marlie Bushey said they enjoy Milton Elementary School’s new mural. BELOW: The mural incorporates the school’s three behavior expectations: “bee” safe, “bee” kind and “bee” ready to learn. ABOVE: Milton mother Nina Reinhardt painted the piece, located in the school lobby. (Photos by Kaylee Sullivan)

“Expectations!” they screamed, pointing out the “kind” bee holding an apple for sharing, the “ready to learn” insect grabbing a backpack and the “safe” bee throwing a football.

These expectations, Filion said, are revamped from last year, creating more simplified direction for the kids. To make it even more enjoyable, administrators are implementing a school-wide challenge to celebrate students who follow expectations, Filion said.

Posters of each premise will hang in classrooms, lunchroom, library and beyond to remind students of ways to “bee” respectful. When teachers see this in action, they reward the student with a “buzzy,” or gold cotton ball to add to their classroom jar. Once the jar is full, it’s added to a school-wide hive.

The large wooden hive, set to be unveiled at an assembly Thursday, Sept. 7, will sit in the school’s entryway. When the hive is overflowing with cotton balls, administrators will host a celebration for all students and faculty.

“As a whole school, we have this common goal, and we’re gonna achieve it together,” Filion said, noting the hive is a constant visual reminder to motivate kids. “It just builds a sense of community, which is what we’re looking for.”

Teachers are developing more pointed principles in their own classrooms, too, Filion said. These plans align with the Responsive Classroom approach, which focuses on engaging academics, effective management, positive community and developmental awareness in elementary and middle schools.

As the first days of school kicked off last week, Filion said she was “bebopping” — no pun intended — into classrooms, where kids have quickly recited the new school rules with excitement.

Faculty on the school’s PBIS team has planned more school assemblies this year to hype their school-wide initiatives. Filion said the team is committed to celebrating teachers, too, to improve climate schoolwide. According to Reinhardt, positivity is one of the main traits her mural exhibits. The bright entrance ignites creativity in kids, she added.

With two children in the district, Reinhardt said she’s gotten to know many teachers, some of whom have asked her to paint for them. At least three of her tree paintings don classroom walls in the Herrick Ave. school, and other teachers have expressed interest: One wants a farm display, and another wants to see a dog mural.

“Her creativity and mine together created a nice little reminder in the entranceway of our school,” Filion said. “The kids, when they’re walking in, it’s just so much more inviting.”

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