One fourth grade school teacher in Greenville County is pushing her students to stand out in a way that is inspiring not just her students, but fellow teachers throughout the school. To prepare her students for state testing, Meredith Wilson Jung at Welcome Elementary held a “Goal Gala” for her students as a way of rewarding them for reaching their individual goals.
“I love making school different and more fun for my students because that’s what I would want. We create atmosphere together,” she explained.
She rolled red carpet out for her students to walk down before accepting individual awards, gave them a chance to give a speech, and set up an ice cream station as a reward for those who achieved the goals they had set for higher grades.
“I feel so appreciated and loved,” said student Jarrett Billups. Principal Donna Ketron said the Goal Gala was just one of several programs Jung initiated that has had a ripple effect throughout the school, resulting in higher grades and better performance. “Even our veteran teachers and new teachers have learned from her,” she said.
Two years ago, Jung also started a program called “Fancy Friday” that encouraged students to dress professionally once a month. “The idea being if you look professional, hopefully your behavior follows suit,” Jung explained.
The program was so successful, dozens of other teachers started to implement the program in their classrooms. Jung also created an elite after school club for student leaders called the “Alpha Pack,” which encourages leadership and teaches students life lessons like etiquette, dancing and cooking. To join, students must go through an interview process and receive a recommendation from their teachers.
South Carolina state testing at Welcome Elementary falls during the same week as Teacher Appreciation Week. Many of Jung’s students say they feel ready, thanks to the help of their teacher.