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Kim Reber


"Most of my students have cerebral palsy, and many use wheelchairs, so they often need to ask others for help," Kim Reber told Education World. "The Patriot Store allows my students to improve their independence as they provide a valuable service to the rest of the students in the school."

Students exercise their math skills as they staff the Patriot Store.

10th & Penn Elementary School is an inner city school in Reading, Pennsylvania, with 576 students in pre-K to fifth grade. The Patriot Store is a school-wide incentive program that is run by Reber and her unique class. All students in the building, from pre-K to fifth grade, have the opportunity to earn "Patriot Dollars" for academic achievement, independent reading, and following the school-wide merit rules. They exchange those "dollars" for small rewards at the store.

"My K-2 children with physical disabilities operate the store as part of our math program," explained Reber. "The store helps them gain hands-on math experience as they count and sort items and work as cashiers by adding items and making change. The store also helps all the children in the school develop social skills, such as asking for help, waiting their turn, and so on."

“Customers” spend Patriot Dollars earned by good behavior and hard work.

Each week, classroom teachers and specialists receive five Patriot Dollars that they distribute to individual students as recognition for academic achievement or exceptional behavior. In addition, when a student reads 100 books, he receives five Patriot Dollars, and any time a student has followed all of our merit rules and not received any demerits in a four week period, he earns one Patriot Dollar to spend in the store.

"I have been very happy to see how my students' math skills have improved since we opened the store," Reber observed. "I have also enjoyed seeing the friendships develop between the children in my class and other students as they interact at the store."

The store experience helps build friendships. Photos courtesy of Kim Reber.

Starting a school store requires the support of the entire staff of the building, Reber says. Teachers, educational assistants, office staff, and custodians have cooperated with her class to make the endeavor a success. The school's principal, Frank Vecchio, also believed in this project from the start, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Reading has provided generous donations to the store as part of its ongoing involvement with the school and its students.

"As an urban elementary school with 95 percent of the students coming from low-income households, the biggest hurdle we continue to face is funding the store," added Reber. "Since students are not paying with real money, the store itself does not generate any income, so we rely on donations from churches and fundraisers to purchase the items we need."


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Article by Cara Bafile
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