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'Respectful, responsible, ready' effort improves behavior in Medina school

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MEDINA — Eliza Northrop Elementary School started the school year with a rash of behavioral problems, but officials say a new program has helped changed its culture.

Principal Kim Hallock said there were 12 office referrals — roughly one every two days — in the months of August and September.

Of those referrals, about 65 percent were due to physical aggression.

But the latest data from Northrop, located at 950 E. Reagan Parkway, shows that only two students were sent to the office in December and thus far in January.

Hallock, administrative intern Amanda Dodez and the staff at Northrop have applied methods of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, an evidence-based framework for developing positive behavior.

The purpose of the state-mandated program is to establish a climate in which appropriate behavior is the norm. All the schools in the district are implementing it, but Hallock recently spoke about Northrop’s successes.

“We’ve had great success with some of the more challenging behaviors. Some just need our support.”

Hallock said they have taught the students the three Rs — being respectful, responsible and ready — since the program has been implemented.

“Little by little, they are putting things in place,” Hallock said.

Tier I was about setting expectations for the program. Tier II is implementing the program and expanding it further. Only Garfield Elementary and Northrop in the district have progressed to Tier II.

“It’s a framework, not a curriculum,” Hallock said.

“It’s a more positive approach to behaviors.”

“We’ve been building our culture at Northrop for the last several years,” Hallock said. “It’s evident when you walk through our halls. Every student is greeted by name, usually by more than one adult. Every staff member takes ownership and interest in every student.

“It’s truly a fabulous thing. It’s the way we start our day together.”

The misbehavior ranged from acting out on the bus, using profanity and physical aggression.

“They have to learn from it,” Hallock said. “They have to take ownership for whatever action (was violated).”

School officials have learned that some of the children’s home lives are challenging.

“We have to find a way to motivate the kids while they’re here with us,” Hallock said.

“We target kids that have three to five office referrals — the repeat offenders.”

She said she doesn’t want to say there was a problem earlier in the school year.

“Different behaviors are a lot more challenging with things we see in society,” Hallock said.

Hallock and the staff at Northrop produced a video on their success story, which they showed Monday during the Medina school board meeting. It can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2FQdlZc.

Hallock told the school board that she’s proud of the impact the program has had on the 453 students at Northrop.

“Our staff is extremely committed to this,” she said. “We’ve set goals for ourselves and have implemented these things in our classrooms. We still have our challenges. When we have challenges, we think outside the box and how to figure it out.”

Jackie Harper, a fourth-grade teacher, has implemented flexible seating where students sometimes sit on yoga balls. If things aren’t working out in one seat, they can move to another.

“It allows them to be up and active,” Harper said in the video.

She said the students are able to focus better if they are sitting where they prefer.

Students are rewarded with gifts for good behavior.

The fourth-graders have a pizza party — compliments of Marco’s Pizza — with Hallock and Dodez once a month, who dine with students who are nominated by their peers for their positive actions. Dodez reads each student’s accolades and gives them a certificate. They also received a bag of goodies.

They remind every student that every day is a new opportunity to be the best version of themselves.

Medina Superintendent Aaron Sable said the program has made great strides at Northrop. Comparison data from the district’s other elementary schools was not available.

“This shows the PBIS model works if properly implemented,” he said. “It’s cool to see the results.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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