Feelhaver, Prairie Valley H.S. chosen as PBIS Honor Schools

Feelhaver Elementary in Fort Dodge and Prairie Valley Junior/Senior High School in Gowrie have been selected by the state as PBIS Honor Schools.

The schools will be recognized by the Iowa Department of Education on April 24 for their use of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports.

Dennis Hammen, PVHS principal, said the designation is an honor.

“We’re very pleased and happy that we’re being recognized for this,” he said. “Our staff has worked hard to make this program work for us. We have a committee of five people who meet regularly to make sure the program is on track and working like it’s supposed to. It’s nice to be rewarded by having this honor for our building doing the right thing.”

PBIS has played an important role at Prairie Valley High School, Hammen said.

“The PBIS system has allowed us to track behaviors that we see throughout the building, which then gives us the opportunity to see if there are patterns throughout the day, or patterns in a certain area, or patterns with the time of the day,” he said. “It’s allowed us to look at areas that we can change, to improve behaviors.”

Important in guiding student behaviors, Hammen said, is the data collected from staff referrals.

“The biggest piece I like is the data piece,” he said. “The referrals are not necessarily a punishment to the student. They’re mainly a way to track behaviors. In some cases, if there’s a discipline issue involved, of course we would address it. What we like about it is it’s a positive way to improve discipline, and not a negative way.”

Positive behaviors are rewarded, Hammen said.

“We reward students periodically throughout the year,” he said. “We have Cookie Day, or something like that, for all students who have not received a referral.”

According to Hammen, the impact is apparent.

“When we look at our data … it allows us to see if we’ve made a difference, if we’ve made a change in an area. After we do our data collection, if it’s working, we’ll see those graphs go down,” he said. “It does make a tremendous difference. It allows us to really pinpoint what changes we need and we have seen behaviors improve when we make those changes.”

Nancy Cross, Feelhaver Elementary principal, said being recognized as a PBIS Honor School is “incredible.”

“It’s wonderful that our staff and students can feel that they’re honoring the four B’s, of be safe, be kind, be respectful, be responsible,” Cross said. “To know that we’ve done that and someone has recognized the hard work is just great.”

PBIS is applied differently at the elementary level.

“We use it daily to set expectations throughout the school. Wherever students go, the four B’s are posted throughout the school,” Cross said. “We use it to help remind students of how we need to treat each other, to be good citizens.”

Students learn the behaviors, in part, from specially made instructional videos, Cross said.

“We have videos that are on our website that are … models of what the behaviors should look like, for the classroom, the playground, even the bathrooms,” she said. “So, no matter where you go in school, you know ahead of time what that should look like.”

In the middle of the year, all of the school’s students review the behaviors.

“We have a re-teach day. Their grade level classroom teachers will split the kids into those who are having a little trouble with the rules and those who are doing well,” Cross said. “We do a review of the videos in the area they’re struggling with in the one group, and the other group will have a reward and another activity.”

At the end of the week, students are acknowledged for their good behaviors. And every other week, have a chance to win a prize.

“There’s different prizes, like getting to sit in the red throne at lunchtime,” Cross said. “They wear a crown, and they get to choose where the chair goes. Everybody else sits at the table with them, and they’re the king or queen for the day.”

Cross said it is rewarding to see her students embrace the instruction at such a young age.

“It’s incredible to have kids who motivate themselves to do well, who want to do well because they know it’s a good thing,” she said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s a feeling of knowing we’ve made an impression on them, so as they move forward through middle school, high school, they’re already have those skills with them.”