by Laurie Hekman, Northwest Advance


p2What Armock shared was a new “bucket philosophy” introduced to Ridgeview Elementary in Sparta this year. It’s a smaller part of Sparta Area Schools’ Capturing Kids Hearts initiative to help children develop academically, emotionally and socially.
Teachers are encouraging a bucket-filling year at Ridgeview Elementary by posting things in the hallway to encourage students to build one another up using the new bucket vocabulary. The concept is so simple that a 7-year-old can both explain it and live it.
“If you do stuff good, you fill your bucket and their bucket,” said Delaney Armock, 7. “When you do stuff bad, you dip into their bucket.”

“We needed a way to simplify that and put it in a way that kids could understand,” said Kristin Armock, parent teacher committee president, and mother of Delaney. “It’s something that is tangible.”

The bucket philosophy revolves around a concept developed by Merrill Lundgren, who founded Bucketfillers for Life, Inc. and is known as “The Bucket Man.” Lundgren, 88, has been sharing his life-giving secrets with school-aged children since 1979.

The concept is basic: Everyone carries an invisible bucket that when full, makes the person happy. When that bucket is empty, the person is sad.

In order to have a full bucket, according to the developers of the concept, a “bucket filler” needs to do kind things for others. This fills the bucket filler’s bucket, and the bucket of those they are serving. Bucket dippers are those who try to bully to get their buckets filled.

“Many bucket dippers have an empty bucket,” said Carol McCloud, the author of ‘Have you Filled a Bucket Today?’ in her book. “They think they can fill their own bucket by dipping into someone else’s. But that will never work.”

The book is unrelated to Lundgren’s team, but it puts the concept into a picture book format.
Ridgeview has been reading the book and implementing the patterns within their classrooms since the beginning of the year, and hoped to have the author present during a series of assemblies Monday, Oct. 20. McCloud was unable to attend, however, due to an engagement in California.

Both Armock and Principal Deborah Dufour were disappointed, but didn’t allow the setback to keep them from carrying out the philosophy within their schools.

“We either had to cancel or regroup, and we decided to regroup,” Armock said.

She said she had to follow the philosophy on her own and ask herself: “What would a bucket filler do?”

Armock said they decided to bring in the Bucketfillers for Life Inc. team to present to the Parent-Teacher meeting on Oct. 20.

“Even though she isn’t coming, it gives us a good starting point,” she said.

Dufour said that the lessons she has been able to learn and teach to the students this year have been especially pertinent considering the move she, along with the rest of the teachers at the now-closed Central Elementary school, had to do this summer.

“We’re kind of a new family here,” she said, citing the stresses of moving from Central to Ridgeview.

But even in the midst of the chaos, the students seem to be getting it. Sister and brother Beka Gair, 6, and Ben Gair, 7, explained how they had their buckets filled.

Ben said he saw bucket dipping when he heard name-calling. Beka said her bucket was filled when she was told that she was “nice.”

So whether they are 7 years old, or older than 7, students, parents and administrators are all taking part in the bucket filling.

“We’re just looking forward to a bucket-filling year,” Dufour said