Elective Courses Reduce Discipline Problems At MIddle School

This is how principal Withrow starts his day.

surrounded by the usual four walls and the harmonious clicks of his computer keyboard.

But his day will soon change.

Come 11:30 a.m. he's no longer an ordinary principal.

He's also a wood shop teacher.

And get this, his students get to work with power tools.
"We get to use table saws and draw designs on wood," said C.J. Hinojosa. 

It's part of a full force elective effort to not only help relieve stress from state testing, but also cut down on discipline problems and it seems to be working.

"I would say our discipline referrals have probably have been cut 75 percent from this time last year," said Withrow.

Some of the kids like Hinojosa are even finding out more about what they'd like to do when they grow up.

"Probably build my own house," he said.

Whether its creating a wood sculpture in wood shop or icing cupcakes in culinary class, all of these projects serve a very special purpose. 

The cupcakes will be given to teachers at lunch and it's not just the taste testers that are benefiting.

"Hopefully a lot of these kiddos that were working with they'll take something away that when they're married they can use at their home," said Withrow.

So it's a way for students to take a breather as they make the new welcome sign for their school
or the  decorations for the teachers lounge and wrap gifts that theyll be donating to needy children.

"It makes us feel better, to not pay attention to ourselves so much and pay attention to other people," said Lillie Neves, who's part of the Pay It Forward elective.

It's all just part of an ordinary day at school, but the impact has been anything but that.

Teachers say its also helped kids with their grades since they have to earn a specific grade in a class in order to take an elective course.

If they're not passing a class, they have to take a tutorial session instead of the elective.

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