Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IL: Maercker School sees behavior changes with new program

By David Heitz, dheitz@mysuburbanlife.com
Westmont Progress

Westmont, IL -

Administrators at Maercker School in Westmont are pleased with a new discipline initiative defining expectations for good behavior and recognizing students who carry them out.

Maercker School is set to hold a school-wide celebration next week to mark the success of its new Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program that was implemented at the school this fall.

The program, also called PBIS, gives students a new perspective on student behavior expectations by focusing on three key words — “respect,” “responsible” and “safe.”

“PBIS is an easy way to explain behavioral expectations to students that focus on specific areas of the school,” said Jim Goodwin, school psychologist at Maercker. “A list of these key terms is posted throughout the building, so it is easy for the students to remember and follow.”

PBIS is part of a nationwide program by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, and is described as a decision-making process that guides selection, integration and implementation of academic and behavioral practices.

A letter was sent home to Maercker School families during the summer to introduce them to the new PBIS initiative, and the program began when school opened for the fall by introducing it to the students with a short video. School expectations of being respectful, responsible and safe also was shown at open house.

“We are very excited about this initiative because it clearly defines for students what the behavioral expectations are throughout the building,” said Maercker Principal Brenda Babinec. “They learn what those expectations are in sections of the building, such as lunchroom, bathrooms, playgrounds and stairwells. Each has its own expectations, based on the respect, responsible and safe concept.”

As students follow the guidelines taught in the program, Goodwin said they are recognized by receiving “paws,” each week from teachers and administrators, which symbolizes the Wildcat school mascot.

“The top students are then given little prizes each week as a reward for their work in the program,” Goodwin said. “And a drawing is held each month for additional prizes.”

“Paws” also are handed on at random times, such as if a group of students is walking in the hallway, and all are following the expectations set there, a teacher may give a couple of paws out, Babinec said.

The program has made a noticeable difference in the behavior patterns of the students, Babinec said.

“Even though it is only October, I have already seen some changes in the students,” Babinec said. “We have definitely seen a difference.”

To celebrate the success of the program, the school will have a celebration Oct. 30, with snacks provided by the PTO, games and other activities in place of the traditional Halloween party, officials said.

“The day will mark the end of the first quarter grading period, and we will use it as a celebration for students meeting those expectations,” Babinec said.

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