What’s the buzz at St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre?

It’s the “Bee Philosophy,” a positive behavior support program that encourages students to “Bee respectful. Bee positive. Bee kind, and bee a friend.”

The reward — other than the good feeling of doing what’s right and good — is a bee sticker that can be put toward a class treat.

Each classroom in the PreK-through-grade-8 school has a beehive grid that has 30 spots for stickers, and once the hive is filled with bees, the classroom gets a reward like a pizza party or extra recess. And once one hive is filled, another is ready to be filled.

Last year more than 110 hive grids were filled with bee stickers.

Teachers and administrators too are eligible to be awarded a sticker when they are “caught” doing an act of kindness.

“Be a friend. Be nice. Be kind. Be helpful. Be like Jesus. All kinds of things go with the bees,” said Principal Mike Alford.

Miles Marineau, 11, a fifth grader, said members of the school community “are always trying to be like Jesus because Jesus was always nice to people. … He always saw people as somebody He could love and take care of.”

Alford said the Bee Program is used as part of the school’s Catholic identity: “Being like Jesus is a top priority.”

He said he and his wife, Johnnie, created the “Bee Philosophy, though she “was the one with all the brains.” There was a similar program in a school he was principal of in Louisiana.

“The purpose of the Bee Program is to focus on the positive behavior of the students so it does not allow negative behavior to come in,” the principal said. “It works. We have minimal behavior problems.”

It also creates a positive learning environment, he continued. “We have a very good learning environment.”

Anyone can “catch” someone something good, and Alford himself walks the halls with a plastic bag full of bee stickers that he awards when he hears a student compliment someone or hold the door for a visitor, for example.

“Anybody at one moment can change the world,” Miles said. “The world was not made for people to be unkind.”

Parent Wendy Fuller said the Bee Program “reinforces what [students] should be doing.”

Nora George, 8, a third grader, likes the Bee Program because classmates work together for a reward for everyone. “But they don’t have to get a reward, but it does make them feel really good inside” to be noticed and given a bee sticker for doing something kind. “It feels good [to do something nice for someone else] without getting a bee, but it’s like a bonus because when you get a bee, someone has noticed you.”

—Originally published in the Winter 2023 edition of Vermont Catholic magazine.