Elementary School

The Power of P2 at Orchard Primary: How The Positivity Project Shaped Our School Culture

By Gina Szwejk


In our small town of Almont, Michigan, The Positivity Project (P2) has quickly gained momentum in our district and community. It all started a few years ago when I introduced the idea of implementing P2 to my principal. I saw the need for character education in my district and have seen firsthand the positive impacts P2 has had on other schools and districts. I quickly got teachers on board with this new implementation, and we all started using the daily lessons in our classrooms, whether during morning meetings, snack time, or how we end our day; all the kids were showing enthusiasm for this new program. The students quickly began to fall in love with the program — so much so that if our school day were a little off schedule (for example, a Christmas party), the kids would beg to do The Positivity Project even if it didn’t exactly fit in with our day (Teaching gets like that sometimes!).

Year Two of P2

Year two with P2 increased with more knowledge from the teachers and students already exposed to it in the previous year and allowed for a little more teacher creativity.

Schoolwide, we began implementing P2 into our PBIS system. Students who demonstrate a specific character strength from the month will earn a token for our book vending machine and an award. Students in our building will have class votes on who they believe has shown that character strength the best. Everyone is always so happy for the student who earns the book token. This has created a system of positive reinforcement that drives students to want to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

At home, parents have equally expressed how impressed they are with The Positivity Project and have described how they implement it in their own homes. Many parents have even begun using the vocabulary and discussing the strength with their children each week.

In classrooms, we have created Positivity Project journals/notebooks to write about that week’s character strength and draw a picture of what it is/what it means to them. Teachers began adding in other character education supplements like “Little Spot” to get the kids to go one step further with diving into these traits. Children’s books relating to children’s emotions, along with The Positivity Project, have made our school a more well-rounded place.

Year Three of P2

Now that we are into year three with The Positivity Project, students are truly excelling. We have P2 in our daily announcements, continue to use a trait a month for the book vending machine, and are planning to begin assemblies to discuss these strengths as a whole school. Each year our Positivity Project programming grows. As a result, we have observed that P2 has created a whole new culture in our school. The students have more “buy in” every year because they are more familiar with the strengths — and the teachers are able to easily implement this into their daily lessons. Teachers have been heard saying that this program is “game-changing,” “students strive to do these strengths,” and “it has helped students become more understanding of themselves and each other.” Students are now using the vocabulary actively, looking for character strengths in books they are reading, expressing when their friends or classmates are displaying a strength we have learned about. The Positivity Project has become one of my students’ favorite parts of the school day. We get to take five to ten minutes to pause for the day, discuss our feelings and emotions, and reflect on how to be a better person.

Based on the impact we’ve seen, our middle school has now adopted The Positivity Project, which continues to teach these strengths as students move up to a new school.

The Positivity Project continues to grow each year in a great way. I am hopeful and have many visions of what it can become. Our school will continue to use these daily lessons and activities because they are engaging, hands-on, great discussion topics, and build a closer community. I cannot say enough about how wonderful of a program this is and how much it has truly impacted our students.

Gina Szwejk
1st Grade Teacher

Gina Szwejk is a 1st Grade teacher at at Orchard Primary, where she's been for five years. She's been teaching for seven years and absolutely loves it! Gina is a proud 2016 graduate of Oakland University. Go Grizzlies!