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Wise Owl Award Goes Global



Daughter Heather, also known as Mrs. Renz, is an elementary grade school teacher.  The school where Heather presently teaches is the Tom McCall Elementary School in the Redmond, Oregon School District. That Heather is a school teacher is not surprising as her mother and two of her aunts were also school teachers. 


Being the teacher that she is it's not surprising that Heather is perpetually curious about everything imaginable. Ten years ago she asked me, "Dad, What was school like for you when you were growing up in Scotland?"  The first thing that jumped into my head was my pride on that day in 1938 when I was awarded the Moncrieff Prize. Now I had Heather's attention. "Dad, tell me all about it. What was the criteria that caused you to get the award?"  


The Moncrieff Prize was named for it's originator, Gerard Moncrieff, who lived in the village of Elie in the county of Fife in Scotland where I attended elementary school.


The Moncrieff Prize was also known as The Wise Owl Award and was awarded to the student who in the teacher's estimation had best exhibited these twelve qualities during the school year and who would most likely continue on with these traits.


Has a positive attitude

Is hard working

Shows improvement

Works to his or her potential

Listens attentively

Helps others

Goes above and beyond

Is a good citizen

Is ready to learn

Demonstrates leadership

Shows academic progress

Is outgoing


Heather's response was, "Wow, that's awesome Dad.  I'm going to start a similar award in my classroom." 


That year I had been vacationing in Mexico where from a roadside vendor I had bought a pair of hand carved owls made from Mexican ironwood. So Heather's Wise Owl Award was born.  


Now after eight years Heather says that her Wise Owl Award, which she awards on a monthly basis, has from day one of it's inception  been a great addition to her curriculum.


Thanks to Heather's web site, teachers around the USA have picked up on her Wise Owl Award and I see that the award using the same criteria as above is now going global.


This story is gratifying to me as carrying on this Scottish tradition is one of the aims of what my web site is all about, passing the worthwhile forwards.


In Heather's own words she says, "This award is probably the single most important part of my classroom culture.  Students strive to win the award and have their names engraved into the plaque. I myself stand taller when I see the huge smile and the light in the eyes of the student when he or she discovers that his or her name has been engraved along side of the other achievers who have gone before them. Earning the award is an honor beyond words and the impact it has on classroom atmosphere and how it impacts student behavior is incredible.  It motivates all to try harder. As an example, we have not had one classroom discipline issue all year and that is the norm in my classroom. The award motivates the students to give of their best. After eight years of teaching with the Wise Owl goals I now can not imagine teaching without them. Thanks, Dad, for helping to begin a tradition that is making an impact on so many, many students, not just in my classroom but in classrooms far and wide."