Neil Schneider, center, in the role of "Alva," a fifth-grade
boy; Kayla McCarthy, left, playing the role of "Scurvy";
and Michael Brown, in the role of Captain Bartholomew
"Bones" Bilgewater, of the St. Paul-based Climb Theatre
Company, perform a scene in a play about self-control at
Grant Elementary School in Sheboygan. Photo by Sam
Castro/The Sheboygan Press
Out-of-Control Man is officially out of commission at Grant Elementary School in Sheboygan, having been transformed into Self-Control Man.
The superhero theme played out at the school this month under the oversight of principal Marty Steinbruecker and guidance counselor Lisa Biemann and with a creative assist from Minnesota-based CLIMB Theatre.
Grant has been focusing on self-control as one of five key character traits this school year. October's emphasis was on kindness, and the other traits are honesty (December), respect (February) and responsibility (March).
Sounds good, but Steinbruecker and her teachers and staff are making sure those are more than just words. Grant's "family meeting," held on the first Friday morning of each month, rolled out self-control in November with an appearance by a teacher dressed as Out-of-Control Man.
Thankfully, OOC Man quickly saw the error of his evil ways.
"He had Self-Control Man in him all along," Biemann said. "Everybody has that superhero in them."
Reinforcement came on Nov. 14 from the nonprofit CLIMB Theater, a three-person educational drama troupe that has been visiting schools for 33 years and building presentations around topics such as respect, friendship, bullying, gossip and self-control.
CLIMB, which stands for Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body, tailored one 40-minute show, "The Little Yellow Troll's Treasure," to kindergarten through second grade and another, the pirate-themed "The Dreaded Kneejerk," to grades 3 through 5.
"In each show, we have a song to sing," said Michael Brown, 22, one of the performers. "We use gimmicks to help them remember (the theme).
"We're out for most of the school year. We're like teachers on the road. When the kids are in school, we're at work."
Biemann said her strategy includes multiple reinforcement of the character traits. Students at Grant have been hearing about self-control every which way.
"They know it coming in, they hear it (in a play) and they'll hear it back in class," she said. "They can't repeat my lessons as well as they can repeat something fun."
The character-education program was begun three years ago, Steinbruecker said, and it also involves the students learning a special school pledge that incorporates all five traits � one for each grade level.
Even Grant's kindergartners have a line to learn ("I am part of the Grant School family").
"We send materials home on this," Steinbruecker said. "It's crucial that we're all talking the same language and (the students) know what it means."