Cops and doughnuts and…kids with great attendance!

By Suzie Maier, Success Coach, Coleman Elementary School, Coleman, Michigan

Attendance celebrations can bring great joy to students who work hard to make it to school every day.  Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a unique celebration for Mrs. Lynch’s fourth grade class at Coleman Elementary School where I serve as success coach. 

How Cops and Doughnuts Came to a Fourth Grade Classroom
Last summer, I wrote a list of what I wanted my incentives to be and put them in order of holiday appropriateness, how long it may take me to pull everything together and who should be involved.  As I was brainstorming, it popped into my head that it might be cute to play on the stereotype that police officers like doughnuts.  I remembered that Clare has the Cops and Doughnuts Bakery and thought it would be a great idea to approach them. I had no funding and hoped they would donate doughnuts.  Monica Sysak, our new parent resource coordinator, and I drove to Clare and spoke to “Bubba” Alan White (the bakery is owned by nine former police officers). As soon as we mentioned that we wanted a doughnut party with state troopers, he asked what we wanted and when.  I also learned that Monica’s husband is a state trooper.  He happily agreed to come visit the children and bring another trooper, and everything fell into place. 
 
Rylie Holder and Bailey Cottrell learn what it's like to be on the wrong side of the law.Rylie Holder and Bailey
Cottrell learn what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law.

How Cops and Doughnuts Came to a Fourth Grade Classroom
Last summer, I wrote a list of what I wanted my incentives to be and put them in order of holiday appropriateness, how long it may take me to pull everything together and who should be involved.  As I was brainstorming, it popped into my head that it might be cute to play on the stereotype that police officers like doughnuts.  I remembered that Clare has the Cops and Doughnuts Bakery and thought it would be a great idea to approach them. I had no funding and hoped they would donate doughnuts.  Monica Sysak, our new parent resource coordinator, and I drove to Clare and spoke to “Bubba” Alan White (the bakery is owned by nine former police officers). As soon as we mentioned that we wanted a doughnut party with state troopers, he asked what we wanted and when.  I also learned that Monica’s husband is a state trooper.  He happily agreed to come visit the children and bring another trooper, and everything fell into place.

How Cops and Doughnuts Came to a Fourth Grade Classroom
Last summer, I wrote a list of what I wanted my incentives to be and put them in order of holiday appropriateness, how long it may take me to pull everything together and who should be involved.  As I was brainstorming, it popped into my head that it might be cute to play on the stereotype that police officers like doughnuts.  I remembered that Clare has the Cops and Doughnuts Bakery and thought it would be a great idea to approach them. I had no funding and hoped they would donate doughnuts.  Monica Sysak, our new parent resource coordinator, and I drove to Clare and spoke to “Bubba” Alan White (the bakery is owned by nine former police officers). As soon as we mentioned that we wanted a doughnut party with state troopers, he asked what we wanted and when.  I also learned that Monica’s husband is a state trooper.  He happily agreed to come visit the children and bring another trooper, and everything fell into place.

The Children Were Delighted!
By all accounts, the children were more interested in meeting and questioning the troopers than eating the doughnuts. They questioned them on every part of their uniform.  They were fingerprinted, received a Junior Trooper badge and sat in the troopers’ cars. It was a big hit!  With all the negative stories in the news recently, the troopers were eager to show they are not bad guys on TV. I told the officers that since the children raved about the party, I will be contacting them next year to come and eat some doughnuts with us. 

I sat down with a student from Mrs. Lynch’s class to get her take on the party. Here’s what Megan Gross had to say:

Did you like the Cops and Doughnuts party?
Megan: I loved the party because we got to see the troopers! They showed us their uniform and all the things on their belts. And,
they gave us doughnuts!

What was your favorite part of the party?
Megan: I liked that we were able to get to know the troopers. We got to eat doughnuts and sit in the car with them! They explained to us what they do every day and answered all of our questions. I found out that Trooper Sysak knew my cousin. He was a police officer in Wyoming who died while saving a drowning girl’s life. He passed away, but she was able to live. Seeing these cops here reminded me of him, and I wanted to thank them for that.

Would you like to win this party again?
Megan: Yes!  It would be nice if we had new troopers come in so we could get to know them too. We loved this party so much that we decided to make a class chart where we keep track of our attendance. We try to make sure we come to school every day so we can win the next party.    

Did this party make you want to come to school every day?
Megan: Yes, because if we come to school, we can earn more parties and more fun things will happen to us.

What else do people need to know about you or the party?
Megan: Well, I think you should include that I am a straight A student, and I hardly ever miss school.

Megan Gross, age 10.Megan Gross, age 10.

The Troopers Had Fun Too
I followed up with the troopers to make sure they had a positive experience too. Trooper Matthew Sysak of the Mount Pleasant post had this to say,

"When Trooper Zeilinger and I were asked about being a part of the Cops and Doughnuts party for good attendance, we were very excited.  We feel it is very important to be involved in our community and our schools.  It was a good way to show children the positive side of law enforcement and to spend time with them answering questions.  Trooper Zeilinger and I feel the party was a great success and enjoyed by all who attended.  We hope to be asked back next year for the winning class."

I would encourage other success coaches to contact their local precincts because our troopers said they are always looking for ways to shine a positive light on law enforcement and would love to come in and be a part of school activities.

Trooper Zeilinger fingerprinting Alivia Turner.Trooper Zeilinger fingerprinting
Alivia Turner.

This article is one of a series highlighting community partners working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to improve attendance in schools across Michigan. Through Pathways to Potential, MDHHS has placed success coaches and other employees in over 200 schools across the state. These people work one-on-one with families to identify and remove barriers to children attending school. We are always looking for new partners, volunteers and donors. Visit www.michigan.gov/pathwaystopotential to learn how you can donate, partner or volunteer.

 

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