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Belgrade High teacher aims to instill 'can-do' attitude in students

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 04 2012 08:23:04 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"How do you deal with a student who says, 'I can't?'" asks Belgrade High School art teacher Frank Jacques.

It's a question Jacques has been struggling to answer for 20 years.

"As soon as a student says, 'this is dumb, I can't do it,' then it pops the bubble and so, then the magic is kind of gone and I don't like that," says Jacques.

That's why Jacques is trying a different approach to keep that magic in his classroom.

"The can initiative is another way to get the 'can', which is just practice not saying 'can't'.  Language is so powerful and if you stop kind of saying those things, maybe you stop inhabiting them," says Jacques.

For every student that goes a week without saying, 'I can't', Jacques will donate a can of food, provided by the Community Food Co-Op, with the student's name on it to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.

"It extends them into the community with this notion of 'can' and then they get to actually do something that actually impacts their community, too," says Jacques.

Jacques says it's a timely project, since food banks are traditionally depleted after Thanksgiving.

Folks with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank says it's true they need food year round, not just during the holidays, but say the project strikes them as more than just a way to help families in need.

"What a creative engaging way to get kids interested in donating food and learning a little bit about what they're capable of doing, I was very impressed," says Gallatin Valley Food Bank Program Manager Lori Christenson.

They say aside from the tangible food that's quickly distributed throughout the county, there's also a long-term impact that has the potential of creating a stronger community.

"These kids that are realizing they can make a difference, they learn self-esteem and, to me, those are the building blocks that create these citizen leaders that we need in our community to make long-lasting changes like, addressing hunger," says Christenson.

Jacques says he knows his students care about those less fortunate and he has no doubt they 'can'.  The trick is helping them to believe in themselves like he believes in them.
     
Jacques says with the 200 cans the Community Food Co-Op donated for the project, he hopes students will also become more curious about the co-op, a place he says is also a good, local community idea.
     
He says he just pitched the project to students, Tuesday, and received a positive response.