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Nye County school district implements new behavior program

The Nye County School District is investing in positive behavior.

This means the school district has gone for a more proactive than reactive approach to school discipline.

Positive Behavior Intervention Support has been implemented in all the schools in the Nye County School District and the school district hopes that this new approach will change the behavior of its students.

Principal of Rosemary Clarke Middle School Tim Wombaker explains, with every negative a student receives there should be five positives.

“The old mindset that says ‘we will nail you here,’ is gone,” he said.

Wombaker said that PBIS has been in the classroom for some time and has successfully worked in schools in Utah.

“We are lucky to have an administrator, Beth Steele, who has experience with PBIS. She has been a wealth of information. The change in the kids has been noticeable too. Around this time, I usually have a stack of discipline problems and this year I think only one or two.”

In the past, teachers would tell students to line up and ‘Johnny’ would be punished for not lining up properly. Johnny, please raise your hand next time, or Johnny, that’s not how we pass out paper, and Johnny, we don’t run in the hallway.

The new approach praises students when they do something right.

“Oftentimes we assume students know what the ‘right thing to do’ is when the student actually does not know, and has not been taught the right thing to do,” Nye County Superintendent of Schools Dale Norton said. “In many cases, this is where PBIS comes in, which is to teach students the correct rules and responses.”

In a PBIS school, what would happen instead is the teacher would praise the closest student next to Johnny that lined up correctly and teachers are looking to catch students, doing good things not bad things.

“Thank you Michael for lining up with your hands to your side and directly behind the person in front of you.” Doing the praise in front of Johnny, means Johnny is getting retaught on how to line up without there being a negative consequence.

“We are more focused on reteaching and positive reinforcement in the classroom,” at Manse Elementary Principal School Laura Weir said.

Manse Elementary

At Manse Elementary School in Pahrump, students have been given a big dose of PBIS.

Ms. Jamie Carroll’s second grade classroom demonstrates PBIS.

“Class, turn your eyes to me,” she directed her class. “Good job, Mr. Jordan. Look at those eyes, he’s got those eyes that move exactly where they should be. It’s beautiful.”

So in this example, the teacher is catching students doing something right, instead of punishing the student that does it wrong.

Again, Ms. Carrol gives an instruction to the class.

“I am looking for those quiet tables,” she said. “Thank you, Mr. Leland, for leading your table into greatness. Mr. Leland, you are great role model for your classroom. I also love Jordan’s table. Thank you for being a great role model for your table.”

“Yes, this is a good PBIS example,” Weir said. “It is important to teach expectations, recognize the positive, and reteach expectations so that students know why we are doing what we are doing. PBIS is based on the philosophy of teaching in a positive way. When students don’t know how to read, we teach them.

“When they don’t know how to subtract, we teach them. When they don’t know how to behave, we must teach them,” Weir said. “Of course there are going to be consequences for negative behaviors, but we must teach appropriate behaviors if we expect students to behave.”

The Nye County School District expects from PBIS “improved social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities and students from underrepresented groups.”

How it’s going

Weir feels that the PBIS implementation is going well at her school.

“It has made a difference in student behavior as all staff have the same expectations for students,” she said. “It has made a difference in staff behavior as we have a bigger focus on teaching the students what they should be doing instead of what they should not be doing. The positive reteaching of expectations helps the students to realize why they are expected to behave in a certain way, and the teachers are seeing the results.”

Many of the schools involved in this implementation have instituted new ways of rewarding positive behavior. At Manse, students teachers reward students with Hawk cards and collect them.

Weir said they can then turn those things in.

“Once per week they can cash them in during library time,” the principal said. ” It is a lot of things. Some of the prizes include a Manse pencil, a pull from the mystery prize box, lunch with a friend at a special table on the stage in the lunchroom, entry into a drawing for a bicycle.”

The middle school also has cards. In their system, students get Shark cards and can turn them in for prizes at a student store. For example, the students get Shark cards and can spend them on school supplies at the Shark Store. They can also buy water with them daily and one day a month a special treat, like popcorn.

High school kids are more into free time, assistant principal Jason Odegard said.

“The students earn tickets, Trojans tickets, for good grades and showing up for class on time,” he said. “At the end of the month, if they have earned enough tickets, they can turn them in for an hour of free time where they can dance, or even listen to music. To them, free time is like gold.”

Contact Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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