When Greenbriar Elementary School Fourth Grader Benedict Morakinyo was asked why he wore a tie to school one Thursday, his response was, “Because I just want to look great and be successful today!” Dress for success? You bet! And it’s working amazingly well at Greenbriar.
Supported for a second year by an Advancement Center grant, the growing behavioral program was the brainchild of Assistant Principal Carl Blythe. With a population of students that has 300 ENL learners and a large percentage who come from impoverished backgrounds (87% on free or reduced lunch), building self confidence and mutual respect is as much a part of the curriculum as English. Blythe saw a way to bring students together through dress. Just tying on a tie, or at least giving it their best effort, has changed the students both outside and inside. Every Thursday became an opportunity to look one’s best.
The administration immediately saw a difference, with a large dip in office referrals on #TieThursdays and students more consciously aware of their behaviors and how to treat others. No tie? No problem. Blythe used social media to solicit donations and soon had neckwear flooding in from coast to coast. There was a reward too for students. Those who dressed for success 12 out of 14 weeks received an invitation to “Guys Night Out,” a evening event with food and fun, not to mention a speaker who inspires the kids to continue acting in a responsible way.
“I feel more respectable for myself. I feel responsible, and I feel more successful.” – Kholson Gilliland, 3rd Grader
In 2015-16, the ladies of Greenbriar wanted in too, and Thursdays became a day to wear their best (dresses, slacks, scarfs, etc.) to join their peers in looking their best. “Ladies Night Out” took place this spring. The community has taken notice too, with the JEL Career Center Cosmetology students contributing beauty and barber services for the kids prior to their nights out.
Will the dapper looks spread to other schools in the district? Perhaps, but for now, the teachers and students at Greenbriar look forward to each Thursday, when everybody looks their best, acts their best, and take big steps forward, together.
Financial support for this wonderful program was limited slightly in 2015-16 due to a surge in grant activity. Help us make sure this program, and others like it, continue in the future by giving to the Annual Fund today.