Positivity becomes a prize

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Positivity becomes a prize

Nadine Haddad, Staff Writer

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Imagine a community where your priorities are not tasks that you must always keep in mind, but instead goals that you are rewarded for. Thanks to newly established Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), students now have the opportunity to be recognized for the good deeds that, in the past, others would have taken for granted.

PBIS is a proactive approach towards implementing the social culture vital for academic and emotional success. It revolves primarily around a point system that rewards students for their positive behaviors and undertakings. Teachers are encouraged to give students points for successfully completing actions from simple errands such as arriving to class on time to highly reputable deeds, such as one going out of his or her way to help those in need.

Marvin Fullilove, an administrative assistant at Milton and a director of PBIS, says that while the program is a “work in progress,” it gives the faculty the “opportunity to celebrate” students for doing what they were asked to do.

Fullilove explicates that PBIS was promoted by Fulton County for schools to target common issues within their community with the following question: “Can you approach that in a positive manner?”

Gary Wludyga, IRR/SEC administrator at Milton and co-director of PBIS, says that the most prominent issue revolving around our school occurs in the hallways (i.e. students lurking the halls during class and/or arriving to class late). After a careful examination of students during the first two weeks of school, Wludyga reveals that the least amount of students who received unexcused tardies were from the freshman class. He says that the faculty rewarded these students by handing out popsicles to them during lunch.

Wludyga explains that the PBIS program will give a greater advantage in helping the administration recompense other students around the school who have done the right thing. For example, teachers were encouraged last week to give each student who arrived to class on time a PBIS point. And, he explains, as time goes by and PBIS develops further at our school, the points will “branch out beyond … just in the hallway.” At the same time, Fullilove explains that they are “gradually getting every teacher on board.”

Now, what do those teachers think of the program’s worth?

David Lakin and Elizabeth Alfano, both social studies teachers at Milton, express their individual thoughts on PBIS. Lakin says that it is “a worthy cause” and that it serves as a great way “to motivate … to encourage … [and] to recognize” students. Alfano is on the same page here. She states that it is a way for students to develop a “sense of maturity” in their actions and to basically “make sure that [they are] putting all of [their] ducks in a row.”

However, Lakin mentions a discrepancy among students who are barely familiar with the concept of PBIS. Although he takes the time to give students points two to three times a week, he explains that students “don’t know what it’s all about.” While it does serve as a “positive thing,” Lakin says, it “has a lot of opportunity to get better.”

Lakin goes on to discuss how students are not aware of why they should be getting these points in the first place; other than simply being recognized for their good deeds, he is curious as to what tangible reward students can receive. “What is the end game here … what can students learn?” asks Lakin.

What is the end game here?

Fullilove and Wludyga explain that they are gathering ideas concerning what things students can receive with a certain amount of PBIS points. Some examples include buying into a raffle to receive prom tickets, parking spots for next year or even gift cards for Peace, Love and Pizza. However, nothing is certain yet.

The PBIS program is a five-year plan that is still very new, says Fullilove. They are collaborating with the PTO to obtain ideas and resources for students’ rewards and they are also trying to regulate the “scarcity” of assets that comes with the costs and demands of what comes with the point system.

Fullilove and Wludyga are working hard towards having this program influence students to do the right thing. Therefore, they are open to any ideas or concerns students have regarding the program and the tangible rewards they can receive.

Although the overall process of the program is not entirely worked out yet, teachers are already seeing improvement within the school. Fullilove explains that the amount of unexcused tardies has dropped from around 90 per day in August to between 50 and 60.

He and Wludyga are both impressed by students because of these improvements. They especially admire the fact that teachers are not telling their students day after day to arrive to class on time, but students are doing this by choice. And that, they explain, is the main purpose of PBIS.

Therefore, it is safe to say that although PBIS is a “work in progress,” says Fullilove, and “regardless of the fact that it’s going to take five years, I’m seeing culture change within this building … and to me, that’s huge.”