Education

Colleagues

January 01, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Trading Up

Success is in the cards for Betty Harshaw’s students.

At elementary schools in Wildwood, New Jersey, Pokemon is passé. Instead, kids scramble to obtain trading cards featuring characters a little closer to home: local high school students who excel in class.

Betty Harshaw, a part-time phys ed and driving instructor at Wildwood High School and public relations coordinator for her 1,000-student district, started the fad in 1999. Each year, she and other educators choose 30 to 40 Wildwood High juniors and seniors to appear on glossy trading cards that feature each student’s color photo on one side and personal “stats,” such as hobbies and extracurricular activities, on the other. To qualify, the high schoolers must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average and sign a pledge to remain drug-and alcohol-free and involved in their communities.

After the cards are designed and printed by a local camera shop, they’re distributed to teachers at the area’s three elementary schools. The teachers, in turn, hand them out to kids as rewards for positive behavior like good attendance, high grades, or being named student of the month. Once students collect five different cards, they are treated to lunch at Pizza Hut with a police officer and the all-star high schooler of their choice.

The program benefits both high school and elementary students, Harshaw explains. “A lot of the time, it’s the negative things [in schools] that get emphasized,” she says. “The trading cards program puts pressure on the older kids to be role models. They, in turn, encourage the younger ones.”

Andy DeLong, 17, who’s been featured on a card for the past two years, says he enjoys the attention: “I’m in a small town. To have little kids recognize you, you feel like you’re famous. Once you get used to it, you kind of welcome it.” DeLong says he’s had fans approach him on the street to tell him they like his card.

Last year, teachers passed out about 2,600 cards, and more than 130 students earned the pizza lunch. And it seems that Wildwood is not the only district interested in making a game out of achievement. Harshaw, who got the idea for her program at a school board convention, has received e-mails requesting advice on starting similar programs everywhere from Alaska to Belgium.

—Leah Kerkman

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)