Friday, March 25, 2011

Shoop Patrol

by Jan Shoop

Several years ago, we were having trouble at the school, in the boy’s bathroom, with graffiti. Every day Maria would march into my office and say, “Ms. Shoop, there’s another gang sign painted with permanent marker in the boy’s bathroom.” I’d walk over to the restroom with her and take a look. We would both shake our heads. Then we would go get paint from the storage closet and paint over the graffiti. The bathroom was beginning to look like a rainbow,
because we could not always match paint. So, Marie used all different colors of paint to cover up the graffiti. It made a vibrate boy’s bathroom, however, things were getting out of control.

I believe that students are going to express themselves one way or another. However, expressing oneself by tagging the bathroom walls with graffiti is not appropriate. I had already talked with the high school students about caring for their school. The students had all assured me that they were not tagging the bathroom.

The graffiti and daily repainting of the bathroom went on for about a week. Maria and I were getting pretty frustrated; until I got a brilliant idea!

I call junior high students the “kids in no man’s land.” This quote just means that junior high students have trouble fitting into the world. They are not elementary children anymore. They are not high school students either. Junior high students need a lot of direction and guidance. With support and leadership they can achieve extraordinary things.

The junior high students had a classroom in the library that year. The library was pretty small and we were out of classroom space. Mr. Jones, their teacher, would allow the class to work in the cafeteria. Studying in the cafeteria gave the students space to spread out and get more work done. That year, the class consisted of about fourteen boys.

I walked into the junior high class and said to the students, “As principal, I am kind of like the sheriff. I’m in charge of the school and everyone in it. My duties are to keep everyone safe, the school running smoothly and all of the students succeeding academically and personally. I need help in managing the school; just like Maria needs help keeping the school clean. So -- I thought maybe you would want to help me.”

I think most of the class thought I had lost my mind. But, I just kept talking, “I need some deputies to assist with monitoring the bathrooms and other areas of the school. I need deputies who will help me stop the graffiti in the bathrooms.”

I ask the boys if they would be interested in being my deputies. To my surprise, they were all extremely excited and jumped on the idea. I asked the students to agree to a plan and tell me how they would act like deputies.

Later that afternoon, the boys came to see me. They had their plan for becoming deputies all worked out. To my surprise, the boys decided to name their group, Shoop Patrol. And that afternoon the Shoop Patrol was born. Each of the boys had decided who would monitor what parts of the campus and they designed unique badges to wear with their lanyards. The badges were in the shape of a star, like real deputy badges; except the badge said, Shoop Patrol. The project was off and running. We never had another mark of graffiti and all the junior high students learned a valuable lesson in leadership.