Swimming With the “Sharks” at Jesse Keen Elementary

Swimming With the “Sharks” at Jesse Keen Elementary

Photo of a JKE staff member in a shark costume

Supposedly Polk County is landlocked, but we’ve been getting a lot of reports of shark sightings at Jesse Keen Elementary.

To help boost attendance this year, JKE created an incentive for students: On any day that schoolwide attendance reaches at least 90%, a staff member will dress in a costume during dismissal.

The outfits follow different themes, and currently it’s a shark.

“We decided we needed to do something that would engage the kids,” said Lisa Gill, a paraeducator who specializes in parent and family involvement at JKE. “Every time we make 90% or above, you get put in the car by the shark, that’s the idea.”

It’s a simple concept, but Gill said it has been effective. JKE has been regularly hitting its attendance goals as students look forward to coming to school and having some fun at the end of the day.

“Now we have kids telling each other in class, ‘You’ve got to come so we get the shark,’” Gill said.

She said JKE is considering a Valentine’s-themed Cupid costume for the next reward, followed by a leprechaun in March.

“We’ve done everything (to improve attendance), and this works,” Gill said. “It’s a goal for them, their faces light up. We’re very proud of our kids.”

Photo of JKE students