Celebrating Positivity

Students and staff work to make positive behaviors contagious

An array of Goldfish crackers sprinkled across the carpeted floor sit in wait for the unavoidable crunch of heavy feet smashing onto their soft and salty texture.
“I was walking to my class and I accidentally dropped some pieces, so I picked it up and threw it in the trash. A teacher caught me and gave me a card and even though I told her that it was my Goldfish, she gave me the card anyway,” freshman Ore Ogunleye said.
These unfortunate Goldfish were rescued by Ogunleye when he decided to pick up the abandoned snack on his Monday morning before school. English teacher Amber Ripa witnessed this event and rewarded his behavior by giving him a blue recognition card that can be entered into a raffle every that is scheduled to happen every two weeks.
“Ore was surprised to be recognized and he was excited to earn a chance to win a prize in the drawing. It was great to reward a student for doing the right thing,” Ripa said.
When the district ruled all Millard schools needed their own behavior system, MN turned to PBIS, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, a method used to create a positive and safe environment for students and give them the best opportunities to succeed.
“I was very glad to do this because a lot of the philosophies and the foundations of PBIS make a lot of sense and they’re very logical. They’re philosophies that I can get behind and support, so I believe in them,” social studies department head David Diehl said.
A committee formed of students and staff created last year worked over the summer to make the most effective and efficient system that would encourage positive behavior at MN.
“PBIS is supposed to be a collaboration between everyone in the building. If you’re going to drop trash on the ground, that affects the custodians. Negative behavior is schoolwide and we want positive behavior to be schoolwide, so we want all personnel of the school to be involved if they choose to be,” Diehl said.
Some of the students have created their own short film, focused on educating the study body about acceptable and appropriate behavior within the school. These videos are intended to be informational and entertaining at the same time.
“We created a script and started filming shots throughout the school and we got to use a drone which was really cool,” senior and student committee member Ruth Hailu said.
After researching throughout the school year about other schools’ approaches, the PBIS committee came up with three pillars—Respectful, Responsible, Ready—and the idea of blue recognition cards that teachers can hand out when they see exemplary behavior within the student body.
“We are hoping to change the way behavior is viewed. Instead of having negative behavior punished, we are hoping to reward positive behavior and change the focus of behavior in our school,” senior and student member of the committee Kai Meacham said.
Students are also able to enter their recognition cards into a raffle that will be held every two weeks. Prizes range from t-shirts from the Mustang Mart to gift cards from popular coffee shops and restaurants.
“It has been a great process that I have been involved in since the beginning. I think the best is yet to come! We like to believe that MN is a very welcoming, comfortable, and a safe place for everyone. This project encourages us to continue to look at the data and improve on any areas of concern,” community counselor Peggy Breard said.
As PBIS continues in the years to come, the committee hopes to see tardies, suspensions, and referrals for insubordination go down in the future.
“We’re just trying to recognize the good things we’ve always done, and affirm and positively recognize the greatness that’s already been there,” Diehl said.