SAM is in the Philadelphia Inquirer! Check it Out!

We are proud to find ourselves in the pages of our fine local newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer.  There are some great photos and information about our recent poker event.  Take a look for yourselves by clicking the link below.

Save A Mind Inaugural Poker Event 

(P.S. We will be posting some more photos from the event soon.  It was a great time had by all and a fantastic fundraiser for SAM and Win/Win)

Welcome Jeremy!

We want to officially welcome Jeremy Alva to the SAM Board.  It is an honor and we look forward to all of his knowledge and insight leading SAM forward.

Here is a brief bio of Jeremy’s accomplishments:

Attorney Jeremy-Evan Alva. Jeremy has fought for peoples’ rights his entire adult life. In the classroom and in the courtroom, he has had the reputation of championing for the wrongly accused and under privileged. Jeremy is an aggressive advocate and experienced litigator. He has tried hundreds of cases in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Jeremy’s trial skills have earned him recognition from his peers. In 2011, for the third time, Jeremy was selected as a “Pennsylvania Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. We are honored to add Jeremy to the board.

Catching Up with SAM

SAM is alive and well in 2017.  In fact we have three new schools in the Win/Win program, W.D. Kelly and Laura Waring in Philadelphia and Hedgepeth-Williams in Trenton.

We have a brand new website as well.  SAM has worked hard to make more meaningful and informative to the general public and prospective donors as well as a source of valuable materials for teachers in the Win/Win program and the education community at large.

If you need a reminder of exactly what the Win/Win program works, take a look at few of our past news posts, and .

SAM is looking forward to what is next.  More schools, more students reached, more lives changed.  As always, our goal is to bring up the high school graduation rate, we are doing our best and want to show you exactly what we are up to.  We hope to bring you more stories from Win/Win students, teachers and administrators.  We want you to see what we see at our Win/Win schools!

Welcome Adam!

At Save A Mind, we are a large family, all of our teachers and students, our dilligent staff, and of course our generous board members.  Everyone plays an important role and we thank them all.

Today we would like to welcome Adam Landau to our SAM board.  Here is a small bio to get to know Adam even better.DSC_0118

Adam Landau is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer at Permit Capital Advisors, LLC. Prior to Permit, Adam worked at McCabe Capital Managers, Ltd. from 1997 until February, 2011. He has nearly 20 years of experience evaluating investment managers, developing asset allocation strategies, and coordinating the process by which the two disciplines are merged. 
Adam received his M.B.A. (Finance) from Saint Joseph’s University and a B.A. (Economics) from Rutgers University. He holds the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Philadelphia. Adam serves on the Board of Trustees at Arise Academy Charter High School, the country’s only charter high school dedicated to students from foster care, and on the Board of Trustees of Bancroft, a leading non-profit provider of specialized services for individuals with brain injuries, autism and intellectual disabilities.
Thank you and Welcome Adam!

The Ultimate Guide to Win/Win: Part 3

The Ultimate Guide to Win/Win Part III: The Other Good Things

So we went over the messages and incentives, but there are still other pieces to Win/Win, the primary being the why we do this in the first place. It would be very limiting to say that we are just a motivational program. We do attempt to motivate students to get better grades and improve their behavior, but we go beyond that, we are teaching students skills that they can use for a successful future.

Take for example the reflection journals, these allow students to track their progress in the Win/Win program, but it also allows them to take a look at themselves. Answer this question from our Reflection Guide yourself: Describe 2 strengths you have shown this month. Describe how that makes you feel.

Well that can tell tons about ourselves as adults, but when guided as middle school student to answer that question, it can make a world of difference. Imagine getting a chance to slow down and really think about what our strengths are, figuring out what we do well, not forever, but over the last month. As a middle school student it is essential to see the positive pieces of yourself and explain how they make you feel. If they can identify their strengths and how good that makes them feel, they can take this with them for the rest of their life.

The reflection journal is set up with many of these questions. In high schoolIMG_1558, college and the real world beyond middle school, Win/Win students can reflect. They can take a minute we all need to fully understand our place in the world.

Now this may all be taking things a bit far, but the thought is, the more students are exposed to reflection, the more they will use this technique in the future.

The Win/Win program is here to do good things.

In our next blog, we will add a few of the reflections you can try. They are helpful for adults as well.

Win/Win Wednesday is born!

So Win/Win Wednesday is here! What we want to do is celebrate all of those in the SAM and Win/Win family. There are so many faces from donors to student that we want you to know. We also want to recognize those that live the spirit of Win/Win, giving full effort even when things get tough.  These folks will get an MVP, the same we give to students when they exemplify Win/Win values.


Now we must give credit to the name Win/Win Wednesday to one of our fabulous teachers, Ms. Wooten at Kilmer in Trenton. Her classroom celebrations focused around Win/Win are what the program comes down to, giving our students true support, letting them know that someone really cares! Thanks Ms. Wooten, we will have to take a trip to your classroom soon!


Check our Twitter (#winwin) and Facebook Pages every week for a new MVP every week. We will try to give you their stories as well in our blog.


The other part of this is to promote SAM and earn some donations.  We know there are so many worthy causes out there, we hope we can show you why to choose SAM.


Long live Win/Win Wednesday!


Win/Win Welcome (and Thanks!)

This year has brought us a few new members to the Win/Win family. One of those individuals is Leyone Royster, our new site coordinator at Kilmer Middle School in Trenton. Throughout the year we hope to introduce you to many of our Win/Win teachers, administrators and students, new and returning. They are what really makes this program work and at SAM on this Thanksgiving week, we give a huge thanks to everyone in the Win/Win program, from donors to the super helpful secretaries at all of our schools. Thank you.


Now here is a little more about Leyone, welcome to the Win/Win team!



Tell us a bit about your career in education.

‪My name is Leyone Royster and I have been an educator for several years. My experience spans from working at the college level and grades PreK-12 as a teacher/ ESL Specialist, and Climate and Culture Leader.

‪What are your initial thoughts about the Win/Win program?

I did not have much experience with a school-wide positive behavior approach system only at the classroom level. However,  from the beginning I honestly thought the Win/Win was a great system to encourage middle level students to be motivated and do well socially and academically.  As a result, I think Win/Win serves an important role as a school-wide approach to promote positive behavior and effort for the social and academic achievement of students.

‪Please give any positive stories about Win/Win you may have from either teachers, students or parents.

Being that the Win/Win program was new to me as the site coordinator, I wanted to challenge myself to kick off the use of the message cards for the new school year.  I had a 6th grade student who had some challenges with completing classroom tasks so I challenge the student to complete homework because I wanted him to do well in school and as a result earn Win/Win points.  The student returned the following day with a completed homework assignment and he earned his first Win/Win card of the school year and it was a great feeling for the student and I since the program was new to both of us.

The Ultimate Guide to Win/Win Part 2: Incentives

This is the second piece to our series on the Win/Win program. The first dealt with messages, now we get to the part that receives most of the attention: incentives.

Many people look at us as the folks that give out $100 to students, but there is much more to this and all the incentives for that matter. Motivation can come through many different means, and incentives are just one of them. That is why we feel that Win/Win is a entire program that includes ince2014_WHAT_A_WIN-WIN_STUDENT_SAYS_AND_DOES_POSTERntives and so much more.

To understand the incentives, you must take a look at how students earn credit for effort and behavior. First off students and teachers are given a rubric on how students can earn credit for their effort and behavior. Each week a teacher decides if a student fulfills the requirements of the rubric, they then place a sticker for effort and/or behavior on a classroom chart distributed by Win/Win. Students keep track of their sticker totals in their Win/Win notebook as well the constant visual of the chart in their classroom. These stickers are the way we at Save A Mind figure out what type of incentive the student earns; basically each sticker is equal to one dollar on their gift card at the end of the year.

There are really three types of Win/Win incentives: mid-marking period, end of the marking period and end of the year, all of which align with the school year calendar.

Mid-Marking Period
These prizes are based on effort and behavior points (stickers) that students earn from their teachers. If they get 8 stickers, they get a prize. These are usually smaller, like a mechanical pencil or a braceIMG_1566let. They remind students that there is more to come and that Win/Win is there all year long.

End of the Marking Period
During each marking period, students can earn up to 20 stickers. If students earn at least 19 stickers, they receive a larger prize. An example may be a Win/Win backpack or water bottle. These prizes can also be social in nature like a pizza or water ice party. After a student survey last year, we realized that more than anything, students wanted prizes they could share with their friends.

End of the Year
This is the big prize, a bank gift card that can be up to $100 dollars. The value of the card is based on the total of effort and behavior stickers earned over the first three marking periods, and also a student’s academic grades and attendance. The way our founder looks at this incentive is actually more like a paycheck. Mr. Funston reasons that school, academics and behavior, is actually a student’s first job. For the past two years TD Bank has been essential in helping us out to make the cards possible.IMG_1332

*I will add in a bit more about the MVP program used by specialist teachers, but look for more in the next post. When students get an MVP from a specialist teacher, they add a sticker (orange instead of blue) to the their classroom chart. By doing this they earn credit toward their end of the year gift card.*

The Ultimate Guide to Win/Win Part 1: Messages

As Win/Win returns to four middle schools in Philadelphia and Trenton, I thought I should take a minute and give a quick explanation of what this program is all about. I broke it down into three categories: Messages, Incentives and Other Good Things. Let’s start with messages.



This is my favorite part of the program, where teachers get the chance to write messages to students besides the normal “Great Job!” on the top of a test.   What we found out from research is that the more specific the message the more impact it will have. That being said, not every message is a rah-rah, pom-pom waving cheer type note. In fact most of the messages are a way to get across a real statement to a student; one of my favorites simply said, “What Happened?” The student knew exactly what that meant. Another card I saw last year said, “I love how you get along with everyone, but remember school work is most important in class-not what happened in other classes!”   What a great way to say: You are talking way too much in class. Another great message read, “ Thank you for working so nicely in your groups, you show potential for great leadership.” That one would have been nice to get in seventh grade.IMG_1578


Messages can take many forms from an acrostic poem to a wisdom filled quote. Teachers are very creative and understand that the more they put into the messages the more results they will see in the long run. While we expect all of the messages to be positive, teachers use their own style to make each card an original.

Students get their messages every couple of weeks, and depending on the school, they may come from all of a student’s teachers. One student told us about the cards, “I didn’t even realize that teacher knew I was in class till I got a Win/Win card”.


The messages are a way to build the bond between teacher and student, which in turn should lead to more productive classrooms.  The goal with the messages, as with the entire Win/Win program is to improve effort and behavior.  Think of it this way, if someone at least knows who you are, let alone takes time to write a personal note, we would all probably work a little harder and try to make life a little easier for that person.


Under the message section I will mention our MVP (Most Valuable Participant) recognition system used by specialist teachers (gym, technology, art, music). These messages give a chance for teachers that don’t have homerooms, but still see many, many students everyday, a way to recognize children in a meaningfulIMG_1575 way, but also in a convenient manner. I will talk more about these in the incentive part to the guide, but I wanted to include MVP’s here as well because they can be very powerful. At the end of last year we asked students to pick their favorite message cards so we could see what they considered a meaningful message. A good number showed us an MVP card. That was a sign to us that the MVP’s were more important to some students than we thought.


Try writing a few message to your students, and if you’re not a teacher, how about writing a few to your employees, or your own kids, maybe even to a spouse.  It is really hard to beat a handwritten note to show how much you care.


I will end this section of the Win/Win guide with a great message I saw that could really be for anyone, “Focus, Participate, Learn, Succeed”.