Students make difference with positive program

Positively Greenwood program highlights students' good behavior

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Greenwood School in the Regency area is known for its multi-sensory teaching methods and unique teaching styles. It also serves students with disabilities.

But it has added a new program to its curriculum: Positively Greenwood.

Students are being recognized for having a positive impact on their school by doing good deeds, like helping to carry books for a student on crutches or being an ambassador for a visiting student.

Other students were recognized for helping run errands and set up for classes, picking up a classmate's belongings that fell on the floor and giving up a seat for a visitor in class.

"Positively Jax gave us the idea," said Julie Blair, marketing and events director for Greenwood School.

Positively Jax is a program News4Jax uses to recognize people and organizations who make a difference in the Jacksonville area.

In the same vein, a board at Greenwood keeps tabs of all the good deeds done by students last semester -- like helping another student apply glaze to a ceramic piece.

Theodora Stoumbelis, an eighth grader at Greenwood, was assigned to make a ceramic pot in art class last semester and received a special request.

"When I was working on mine, I was asked by a student to help him on his," Theodora said.

That student was visually impaired and had a hard time doing the project on his own.

"It was pretty difficult to see his vision and put it on the artwork, because if I mess something up, I might not know about it until it's finished," Theodora said.

Theodora and the other student went back and forth molding the piece. The other student would feel it to see if it was the way he wanted.

"I felt pretty good, because I usually don't get the opportunity to help someone with a disability so it was a new experience for me," Theodora said.

An experience that taught them both.

"He got to do something for the very first time -- with help, but he did most of the work. He helped me mold it. He helped me paint it," Theodora said. "The lessons that I learned helping Trey is to use a lot of patience and not to get overwhelmed during the project."

Now the two have become friends, and she continues to help him with art, math and reading.

"I'm like his guiding eyes," Theodora said.

Another student, 11th-grader Victor Sherline, was recognized for kindly greeting students each morning.

"Please, right this way," Victor says as he holds open the door. "When I open the door to a classroom, I make it like they're walking into a palace."

And he does it every day during the school year, earning him the nickname "The Doorman."

"It feels great to see a person smile when you greet them, because most of the time, I hear people having a negative attitude," Victor said. "I see that they're happy because I made them happy."

Victor said while helping people, he's made new friends, which is a plus.

"If you're out there and you see new faces and new people, you get to know them," he said.

Victor said he will continue this tradition next semester, passing on the advice he lives by.

"If you have a positive attitude, you'll succeed in life," he said. "If you don't, you won't."

Theodora and Victor are only a part of a larger group of students who have made a Positively Greenwood difference and have been recognized.

"This is the first time I've been recognized for something good I've done," Theodora said. "It was unbelievable for me."

The administrators at the school say they plan to continue their Positively Greenwood program next school year.

"Always having that positive attitude and helping out their fellow classmates and teachers, we just hope that they take that with them and continue to be good citizens," Blair said.