Educators at Eastside Elementary in Greenbrier have come up with a new way to encourage students by “cutting down the nets.”

Through, quite literally, the cutting of a basketball net, Principal Mandi Dunlap said students are able to see their growth in one nine-week period.

“Throughout the first nine weeks, students have set goals and throughout the nine weeks have monitored their growth,” she said. “Each nine weeks, students will go through this practice time [and] at the end of the year, all students will get to cut down their net in their hallway and take home a small piece of the net.”

Dunlap said the cutting down the net ceremony is part of the school’s theme this year, “One Team, One Dream.”

“With this year’s theme, it was perfect to help students celebrate their success,” she said. “We as a school are working together as team to see all kids succeed.”

The idea made its way to Dunlap about two years ago.

“Practicing cutting down the nets is a tradition that Coach Jimmy Valvano did with his team [at North Carolina State University],” she said. “I enjoy basketball and watch lots of inspirational sports clips to show staff. I had gotten this video suggestion from one of my staff members. After watching it, I shared it with my staff.”

Dunlap said at that point in time, she wasn’t sure how they could implement the idea but knew she wanted to eventually do it. With this year’s theme, it was a natural fit.

“Students are excited to practice cutting down the nets and eventually get to take a piece of their grade level net home at the end of the year,” she said. “They loved getting to do this activity this week.”

Students, the Eastside principal said, track their own growth in their data notebook, which are all “great visuals,” and this activity of getting to visualize cutting down the net is a great way for kids to see what they are striving for.

“Growth is individualized at Eastside Elementary,” Dunlap said. “We believe that all kids will learn at high levels. For some students, this learning will take longer, but every kid will show growth throughout the year.”

She said each student has individual goals to reach and they get excited about tracking that progress in their data binder.

“Kids have enjoyed practicing the net cutting,” Dunlap said. “I can’t wait to see them actually get to cut it down at the end of the year.”

In addition, the staff also has a net that they practice cutting down and the end of year celebration, the staff will get to cut down their own net as well.

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at

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