Two Starkville School District schools will serve as examples for others in Mississippi seeking to promote good behavior and discourage bad behavior from students.
The University of Southern Mississippi’s Realizing Excellence for All Children In Mississippi (REACH MS) program recently designated Sudduth Elementary School and Ward-Stewart Elementary School as model sites for implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS).
Sydney Wise, a REACH MS staff member, said while every school must implement response to intervention systems for both academics and behavior, PBIS is just one option schools have for behavior intervention and is not mandated.
“What makes PBIS work for so many schools is that it is a process ... that is customizable to their unique school,” Wise said. “It isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic bullet. Every school is different. The school-based team sits down and thinks through a series of issues, using their school’s data to really understand what their challenges are and what they need to do about them.”
Mississippi has 26 PBIS Model Sites, Wise said, which are eligible to host visits from other schools interested in seeing PBIS in action. A school must score at least 80 percent on REACH MS’s evaluation to earn Model Site status, she said, and both schools scored more than 96 percent.
“Each school has terrific administrative support and teams that are representative of the entire schools,” Wise said. “They both have developed wonderful systems to support appropriate behavior. One hundred percent of the students interviewed at both schools could state the school’s expectations.”
Wise said it is helpful that these expectations and other SSD incentive programs are themed around the district’s yellowjacket mascot. Sudduth kindergarten counselor Quan Boyd said these expectations are “Bee Safe,” “Bee Respectful” and “Bee Responsible,” with a fourth expectation, “Bee Caring,” added once students reach Ward-Stewart.
“School-wide rules and expectations have been taught to the students from the beginning of the school year,” Boyd said. “This was achieved through direct teaching by classroom teachers, posters with the rules listed (on them) placed throughout the building, DVDs created by the students, and reminders during morning announcements.”
Wise said there are several measures called “critical elements” that REACH MS uses to evaluate schools and that schools use to evaluate themselves, including defining and teaching behavioral expectations, rewarding students for meeting those expectations, systems for responding to violation of those expectations and more.
Lindsey Cooper, third grade counselor at Ward-Stewart, said her school has three school-wide programs that promote good behavior: “Buzzes,” “Good Deeds” and “Golden Spoons.”
“‘Buzzes’ are given at random by all staff members to students displaying appropriate behavior,” Cooper said. “‘Good Deeds’ are awarded to each student earning ‘13 Good Deeds’ every Friday. ‘Golden Spoon’ is the lunchroom incentive and is awarded to one class in each grade once a month for good behavior in the cafeteria.”
First grade counselor Dawn Swartz said Sudduth also has randomized “Buzz Weeks” where entire classrooms can be buzzed at once. New initiatives are also coming to Sudduth, she said, including a “Busy Bodies” exercise program funded by the Starkville Foundation for Public Education and a “Principal’s Good Bee-havior Beehive Program” where students who behave well have their names displayed prominently in the school.
Mary Ruth Caradine, second grade counselor, said Sudduth owes much of where it is today to former behavioral specialist Kate Nichols, who helped Sudduth coordinate its PBIS teams. Faculty are also able to reward each other for good behavior, Carradine said, by writing down Random Acts of Kindness, or RAKs, done for them by other faculty members.
“Faculty and staff write down random acts of kindness done for them by other faculty and staff,” Caradine said. “These are placed in the RAK Urn. These are read during announcements once a week. The notes are then placed on a RAK bulletin board at the front of the school for all to see.”
REACH MS will award $2,500 to each school. Carradine said Sudduth’s money will be used to enhance existing PBIS programs and possibly create new ones, and Cooper said Ward-Stewart’s money will be used to purchase reinforcements for students and staff.
“Being a Model Site is the ultimate goal in PBIS for a school,” Cooper said. “It recognizes that our school is one of the best.”