Sikeston schools honored for support of positive behavior

Sunday, June 17, 2012

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Four Sikeston schools will receive state recognition next week for rewarding students for their positive behavior.

"Overall, Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support is creating a positive, warm climate for students where teachers are looking for what students are doing right instead of what they're always doing wrong," said Joanna Branson, counselor at New Horizons Alternative Education Center in Sikeston.

New Horizons Alternative Education Center, Fifth and Sixth Grade Center and Seventh and Eighth Grade Center in the Sikeston School District and New Dawn State School in Sikeston will be among 267 schools honored Monday by state education officials for their successful adoption and implementation of "positive behavior support," a comprehensive approach to improving students' behavior and academic performance.

"The idea behind PBS is to create a positive climate in your school, and especially in the alternative school where students come with the idea it's going to be hard-core or regimented, and, actually, it's very flexible," Branson said.

The program also allows students to have one-on-one needs assessments, Branson said.

Missouri's Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support is a systematic approach to creating safer and more effective schools by structuring the learning environment to support the academic and social success of all students. It focuses on encouraging positive student behavior, preventing disruptive behavior and tailoring academic strategies to individual student's needs.

Other schools in the Southeast region to be recognized include Chaffee Elementary, Southwest Elementary in Dexter, Eugene Field Elementary in Poplar Bluff, Shady Grove State School in Poplar Bluff, Clippard Elementary in Cape Girardeau and West Lane Elementary in Jackson.

These schools will receive bronze awards Monday afternoon during the seventh annual Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support Summer Institute at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach. The Institute is sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the University of Missouri Center for Schoolwide Positive Behavior Supports.

Dr. Ronald Lankford, deputy commissioner at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, will recognize the award recipients. Schools are awarded a recognition level (gold, silver or bronze), which represents the extent of their implementation of SW-PBS strategies and the evidence they have compiled about the program's impact in their school.

"The schools receiving recognition for SW-PBS are much-deserving," said Missouri SW-PBS State Coordinator Mary Richter, Ph.D. "Implementing these types of strategies not only takes time, typically two to eight years, but real systemic change on behalf of the school. And schools who incorporate this type of supportive environment make a real difference in the lives of students who deal with behavior challenges every day."

SW-PBS is a systematic approach to creating safer and more effective schools by structuring the learning environment to support the academic and social success of all students.

"We do have a reduction of office referrals each year and especially over the last two years. We've had a 15 to 20 percent reduction in referrals," Branson said.

This marks New Horizons fourth year to be recognized, and the Sikeston alternative education center will begin its fifth year implementing the PBS in the upcoming school year.

While Positive Behavior Support recognizes good behavior in students, it also trains teachers to conduct more lessons in the classrooms to encourage students, Branson said.

"It does work very well for our school and gives us an avenue to recognize our kids and showcase their achievements," Branson said, adding the program is expanding in the district with some of the elementary schools implementing PBS in the upcoming school year.

The program gives schools an avenue to help students make better choices and have positive behavior, which ties into their academic performance.

"We have pie-eating contests and watermelon contests at our assemblies. We get involved and are happy and show the students we care about them," Branson said.

Students aren't motivated by punishment, Branson noted. As a result, teachers and staff focus on what students are doing right, she said.

"PBS is not something you can do on the side," Branson said. "It becomes your operating system -- the way you orientate yourselves toward students. It's not just an award system, it helps teachers be better managers in classroom."

Teachers and staff have to go into the program with a whole heart, Branson said.

"I think PBS is one of the best programs I've worked with – especially in my short 10 years working in education -- because it promotes the positive and because we're looking for the good in students," Branson said.

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