Students at Fruitville Elementary are split into different ships to learn about good behavior.
When people think of pirates, swashbuckling renegades often come to mind.
But at Fruitville Elementary, the way for pirates to get their hands on loot is not through bad behavior, but good actions.
The entire school is split into 10 teams, or ships that comprise the Fruitville Fleet. Each team, which is named after a gemstone or precious metal, meets once a month for lessons on a different behavioral theme.
The themes often coincide with Fruitville’s five core values: diversity, integrity, belonging, growth mindset and cooperation.
The fleet helps the school strive for Florida Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support standards, a three-tiered framework that helps create school support every student, especially those who are differently abled.
Last year, the school was named a bronze level school for its PBIS work, though fleet coordinator Morgana Robson hopes the fleet system, which began in August, will help the school be named a gold level school for 2019-20.
“We try to incorporate our mission, our vision, our core values here at Fruitville, and that comes in our monthly lessons, which all staff and all students are being exposed to,” Robson said. “We can definitely say that everyone is being communicated to and educated in the same way.”
Each time the fleet meets, students split into their ships, which comprise students from every grade level. Teachers and staff are split onto teams, too.
Teachers and students wear their ship’s shirt, which was provided to them at the beginning of the year. Ship members are greeted with team-unique handshakes and songs.
“Kids weren’t feeling a sense of community outside of school,” Assistant Principal Jamie Hannon said. “We wanted people to come to work and be excited about something outside of the classroom, and we wanted the students to be excited about learning. This is a great way to accomplish both.”
The teams participate in activities that relate to the theme. Sometimes they read or participate in competitions.
During the meetings and throughout the rest of the school year, students are awarded points for good behavior that they can track through an app. Teachers can pull up the app in their classroom, so students can see how their team is doing.
“It’s just so great because everyone sees that we’re working together as one,” Robson said. “It really helps to see good behavior modeled [and] to see that leadership by example.”
At the end of each segment, the ship with the most points gets rewarded with a special activity, such as a glow-in-the-dark dance party or treats from an ice cream truck. Students can also individually cash in their personal points for candy or a lunch with their teacher. The individual cash-ins do not affect the total points for a team.
Aside from getting students excited about fleet activities, Hannon said it’s been a unifying factor for the school.
“You’ll see a kindergarten student walking by a fourth grader saying, ‘Hey, bud, see you next week,’” Hannon said. “Or a student will stop by my office and give the administrative assistant a secret ship handshake. You just see that we’re making an impact with kids and with staff.”