New program to benefit students approved by Loleta School Board

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Aiming to enrich students' educational experience, the Loleta Elementary School Board decided at a Jan. 16 meeting to purchase and implement the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program.

PBIS is a prevention strategy that aims to alter student behavior by setting universal and positively stated expectations. Grant funding is being sought to help implement the program at Loleta Elementary School, and first grade teacher Kara McKenzie is one of the people involved in that attempt. "I am grateful that our school board has passed a new discipline policy," McKenzie said. "I think staff and students alike will benefit from this program. If students, parents, staff, and community members are all committed to working together to create a better school environment," she added, "I know we can achieve it!"

"Working on this issue with the community has provided us with a chance to be reunited and galvanized as a school," said Loleta School Board member Jeanne van der Zee. "The passage of PBIS feels like we are pressing a much needed refresh button ...and this will be a springboard for developing a school with a strong foundation with parents and teachers behind it."

School board President John Oswald believes the PBIS program has the potential for far reaching positive impacts. "I would like to thank the school staff for seeing this as a way to build upon their professional experience and for being open to suggestions from the community. As a whole, I hope this program is a vehicle to help us focus our efforts," he added, "and bring us together as a single community devoted to enriching the educational experience of our children." He also expressed his appreciation to the Loleta Local Organizing Committee for many months of research and discussion of the PBIS program with school representatives.

The Loleta Elementary School Board decision to implement the PBIS program was unanimous and was met with applause and cheers from those attending the Jan. 16 meeting.

LOC member and Bear River tutor Ed Ramos said, "This has been the most rewarding experience I have ever undertaken as an educational advocate. With the passage of PBIS and increased community involvement I believe the school will become a prosperous learning environment for all who attend, just as education was intended."

A recent study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that PBIS programs significantly reduce children's aggressive behaviors and office discipline referrals, as well as improve problems with concentration and social-emotional functioning. "Using this framework, school staff can identify students at greatest need of service and efficiently target programs and resources to them," said Catherine P. Bradshaw, Ph.D, M.Ed., lead author of the study, and associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Loleta School Board members (clockwise from bottom) Jeanne van der Zee, Glenn Shewry, and John Oswald all listen intently to a presentation on adopting a program to promote positive behaviors and improve student academic performance.