Fieler is positively No. 1
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent May 24, 2012 4:00PM
Lisa Patrick, principal at Fieler Elementary School in Merrillville, Ind., celebrates after being presented as the first elementary school in Indiana to be named a model school in the PBIS program. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Positive Behavorial Interventions and Support Indiana is a grant-funded project of the Indiana Department of Education. For more information, call 650-5301.
Fieler Elementary School in Merrillville has a new feather in its cap.
A representative from a new state-sponsored initiative, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, recently visited an all-school assembly to announce that Fieler has been designated as the first elementary school in Indiana to become a model PBIS Indiana site.
The school-wide program is designed to help students achieve school expectations regarding personal behavior. Fieler teachers worked for two years with James Morrison, liaison for the program.
“I was your teachers’ teacher, and they were treated just as you are,” Morrison told the students gathered in the gymnasium. “I made them read books, they had homework, and worked on projects.”
He added that the program wanted to find that “one shining star” school that would show how to “do it right.”
“In years to come, other schools will be coming here to learn how to do it as your school does,” he said.
Fieler principal Lisa Patrick said she’s very proud of her teachers and students and how far they have come with the program.
“When students do not meet expectations, there are consequences and interventions which may include recess, lunch, or afterschool detentions, conferences with parents and students, community service, and other logical consequences,” she said. “Some students may also be placed into a mentoring program or a social worker group to provide additional support. Additionally, some students may benefit from their own individualized behavior plan to support positive behavior at school.”
Among more than 80 requirements for participating in the program are creation of a “behavioral matrix,” or curriculum; having training for students and staff on all the expectations for behavior; having a reward system for students who meet expectations; having teams in place who meet and problem-solve regularly; using the school’s data to help make decisions; and offering behavioral mini-lessons for students called Cool Tools.
“The model takes the position that no longer can educators assume all kids have been taught how to respect themselves, others and the learning environment,” Patrick said. “Schools must begin to address this lack of respect through social skills training — the behavior matrix.
“Every two weeks the PBIS team meets to address some particular aspect of student behavior needing improvement, as indicated by the data,” she said. “The behavior is addressed throughout the school and reinforced with a reward when a student is observed exhibiting it appropriately.”
Fieler will use “Treasure Tickets” for positive behavior. Randomly selected winners will receive prizes either daily or weekly.
Fieler art teacher Rachel Rosinski said everyone at the school is taking very seriously the three Bs that the school focuses on: Be respectful, Be responsible, and Be safe.
“This program is awesome, it’s a big deal,” Rosinski said of PBIS. “Kids need positive behavior and we need to be able to consistently teach them this.”
Superintendent Tony Lux congratulated the students after the large, colorful certificate, which will be framed and hung on the wall in the school’s main hallway, was given to Patrick.
“I want to tell you how proud we are of our Fieler students,” he said. “Students, thank your teachers for their dedication. The respect you show each other makes this a good place to be.”