Reward efforts aim to promote positive traits

Published 7:59 pm Friday, March 12, 2010

Instilling respect and good behavior in children doesn’t justhelp them in the long run, but it helps both them and theirteachers in the short run as well.

At least, that’s what officials from the Brookhaven School Districtthink. And over roughly the last year, they’ve got the programs inplace and the results to support that.

“We believe that if we teach good behavior while they’re young,they’ll carry it throughout their lives,” said Brookhaven SchoolDistrict Superintendent Lea Barrett. “We try to put an emphasis onthe positive behavior we have tended to take for granted, and italso helps adults learn to acknowledge it when kids do the thingsthey should do.”

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That’s part of what Mamie Martin Elementary School Principal DanitaHobbs said has also been a perk of their Positive Behavior SupportProgram, or PBS. Teachers have started looking for good behavior,and thus students are working harder to please them.

“It’s been great for the teachers and kids, because the teacherslook for the positive and reinforce the positive behavior, whichcertainly gets children to want to make the good choice as opposedto the bad,” Hobbs said. “It teaches them that there areconsequences for all actions, there are positive consequences forpositive actions, negative consequences for negativeactions.”

From Mamie Martin up to Alexander Junior High, there is a positivebehavior program in place at each school, Barrett said, andofficials at each school report startling results.

“I tell you it has cut our disciplinary referrals close to 85 or 90percent this year, I’m a witness to it,” said Brookhaven ElementarySchool Principal Dolores Gearing of BES’ PBS. “It’s a program thatteaches students to display the three schoolwide expectations: showrespect, be responsible and give your best effort. And studentshave started exhibiting that behavior.”

At Lipsey, the program is called “The Wheel of Effort,” and likewith the PBS program, children are issued tickets for doing what’sright.

“We want them to be responsible, respectful, and ready to learn,”said Lipsey Principal Rob McCreary. “The discipline has gone downtremendously since we started this the first week of our secondnine weeks of the year. You have to model positive behavior,because unless they see it, they don’t always know how toact.”

Alexander Junior High School has its Positive Panther Pointsprogram, and it works on a system of points. Once students reach acertain amount of points, their names go into a drawing for prizeslike MP3 players, radios and gaming systems.

“They love it,” said AJHS Principal Rod Henderson. “It’s a greatthing because I believe that when we first introduced it ourdiscipline went down, and our students were working hard to earnthese points. We have 451 kids, and we’ve had over 300 names eachtime.”

Barrett said the district wants to make sure they’re not justpreparing students for the real world academically, but also bybuilding character and leadership.

“You do want, as a child matures, to be able to move from theextrinsic of doing the right thing because you’re being rewarded tothe intrinsic rewards of, ‘I’m doing the right thing because I knowit’s the right thing,'” she said. “There is enough ugliness andnastiness in this world that we want to reward the positive.”