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‘PRO Gator’ program rewards Island Coast students

By Staff | Nov 5, 2010

Two seniors from Island Coast High School went home with an IPOD or a laptop computer Friday morning, thanks to a new program implemented this year.
Assistant Principle for Student Affairs Edward Mathews said PRO Gator, which stands for prepared, respectful and on-time, has changed the mentality of the students by reinforcing the positive things that the students do.
“It has changed the attitude of everyone in the school,” he said.
Some of the positive things students have done since the beginning of the first quarter is turning in a $20 bill that was found on the floor, along with handing in more than 24 cell phones that were found. Mathews explained that last year at least one cell phone a week was reported, and this year only one cell phone was reported stolen since the beginning of the year.
Another turnaround Mathews has witnessed is the amount of referrals given during the first quarter of last year compared to this year. He said they issued 800 referrals last year compared to 400 this year.
“That’s huge,” he said about the 50 percent turn around.
Once the students were noticed for being PRO they were given a PRO Gator bracelet, along with being placed into a drawing to win an IPOD or laptop computer.
In addition, Mathews said they call every parent when their child receives a PRO Gator referral to let them know of the great job they are doing while in school. He explained that one of the phone calls he made the mother could not stop crying because of the positive news she received about her child.
Mathews said it is important to know that people are watching and appreciate what good they are doing.
Overall, during the first quarter, more than 860 PRO Gator referrals were handed out.
Four students were put into a drawing to win the IPOD, which was donated by Best Buy and eight other students were placed into the drawing to win a laptop computer from Quality Service Pros.
Senior Larry McDermott won the IPOD.
A group of local professionals, Quality Service Pro from Lee and Collier County joined forces to help those in the community. Their motto of “pay it forward” provided a senior student with a $700 laptop Friday.
Senior Natalie Cavazos received three PRO Gator referrals from teachers who were impressed with what she did during the first quarter of school, which put her into the drawing to win the laptop.
“I do need the laptop,” she said about why she was excited about winning.
Cavazos explained that she will use the laptop for homework, applying for colleges and social networking.
Once Mathews provided Cavazos with the award live on the student news Friday, she said “Thank you, it really does pay off to be good.” She explained that the focus has changed on students who misbehave to those who are good.
“Students who are good should be recognized,” she said.
William Kenny, who is a member of Quality Service Pros and works for First Family Insurance, said they wanted to donate a computer that had the capacity for upgrades, so the students would have the space they needed.
Jason Evers, owner of Coastline Window Cleaning and a member of Quality Service Pro, said they provided the laptop because they want to help students achieve success.
Sophomore Elisa Perez was also in the drawing to receive the laptop due to the two PRO Gator referrals she received. She said if she was won she was going to give the laptop to a fellow student who did not have a computer because she already owned one.
“Everyone is trying to be a good student,” she said as a result of the PRO Gator program. “I think what they are doing is working.”