Eagan principal curbs negative behavior with ‘fine dining’

Classes which participate in Principal Anger’s “fine dining” experience enjoy their lunch with glass dishes, flatware, fun napkins and place cards. All items used in the program are donated by members of the community. - Photo submitted

Classes which participate in Principal Anger’s “fine dining” experience enjoy their lunch with glass dishes, flatware, fun napkins and place cards. All items used in the program are donated by members of the community. – Photo submitted

One Eagan elementary school principal has found a way to keep students out of the principal’s office while learning manners.

Once a month Red Pine Elementary Principal Gary Anger puts on a tux and hosts a “fine dining” experience – complete with glass dishes, flatware, fun napkins and place cards – for students who have demonstrated positive behavior at school.

“It’s a fun way to recognize students,” Anger said. “We all need to be recognized in our lives.”

Classes are chosen based on students’ behavior in the lunchroom, the classroom and during recess that month. Anger aims to mix it up each month with a different class and grade level. Anger’s program comes at zero cost to the school since Anger’s tux, dishes and other supplies are donated by community members. Students who participate in the “fine dining” experience receive the same cafeteria food as everyone else.

Anger created the idea 10 years ago, when he was first hired as Red Pine’s principal, as a way to encourage positive behavior and curb negative actions. Though the school doesn’t keep definite data, Anger said, anecdotally he’s noticed students making a positive change due to the incentive of the “fine dining” experience.

“I wanted to recognize kids who follow the rules,” Anger said. “With a school our size it could get easy to not get recognized.”

Red Pine has 954 students in grades kindergarten through five.

Red Pine Elementary Principal Gary Anger rewards well-behaved students each month with a “fine dining” experience. Anger created the program 10 years ago to curb negative behavior and reward positive actions. - Photo submitted

Red Pine Elementary Principal Gary Anger rewards well-behaved students each month with a “fine dining” experience. Anger created the program 10 years ago to curb negative behavior and reward positive actions. – Photo submitted

Rewarding positive behavior is a key piece of Anger’s strategy. Among other positive reinforcement measures, classes which behave at lunch and recess can receive a visit from Anger who reads them a book. Each book typically is aimed at teaching positive behavior such as curbing bullying.

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