LAKELAND -- An education revival is under way at Lanier County Elementary School.

Three years ago, Lanier County School System Superintendent Mark Peterson introduced the school's teachers and students to a program designed to incite acceptance and excitement for academics. It's called Jostens Renaissance. Its education revival begins by giving students and teachers the opportunity to succeed in education. They are recognized for their efforts and achievements, and students are rewarded for their academic performance through incentives from the school and community.

"(Dr. Peterson) believed in the idea that when students accomplish something, they should be recognized," said Kristie Russ, teacher. "With the Jostens Renaissance Program, students are recognized for achievements in their lives from behavior to academics."

Jostens officials developed the Renaissance Program to address the demands and desires of students in the everchanging world of the new millennium, students who are on a constant quest to discover uplifting experiences, belong to something greater, build strong and unique identities, and to find success. It's a year-long process that encourages academic excellence, improvement, and citizenship. "The attitude of the students has changed throughout the entire school," Russ said. "They are more conscious about the things they do concerning behavior and academics. This positive experience shows us, as teachers, that our students are affected by the Renaissance experience."

Thanks to Jostens Renaissance Program, attendance and grades are on the rise at Lanier County Elementary School, a feat that has parents, teachers, students, and those in the community smiling. School-based projects that are making this a reality include a bi-weekly Sock Hop for students who are not reprimanded for behavior problems; a Heavenly Homework Store to reward students who complete their daily homework accurately; a True Renaissance Kids recognition for students who are good citizens; and a parade down Main Street every nine weeks led by "A" Honor Roll students.

"The Renaissance experience has changed my outlook on teaching," Russ added. "I love seeing how students strive for excellence. They are setting goals, and when they achieve their goals, the excitement is overwhelming. Being a part of this is a daily reminder of why I chose to become a teacher."

Founded by educators in 1988, Jostens Renaissance's primary goals are to increase student performance and teacher enthusiasm and raise the level of community participation in schools.



To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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