Good Behavior Earns School Honors

Payson Elementary, Rim Country Middle School earn exemplary ratings from state


Panther and Maverick teachers, staff and students can be proud.

Payson Elementary and Rim Country Middle were among the nine schools designated "exemplary" for their successful implementation of positive behaviors, interventions and support (PBIS) by the Arizona State Department of Education at a December conference.


During their reading time, Sally Rohrbach's second grade students, took turns reading paragraphs from their books, raising their hands when they had answers to her questions.

The PBIS planning committee includes Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and the state departments of corrections, health and education.

RCMS and PES implemented the Arizona Behavior Initiative at the start of the 2005/06 school year.

"A school must have a high level of implementation to achieve exemplary status," John Umbreit, a professor at the University of Arizona, said.

"There are well over 100 schools participating," Umbreit said.

Participation in the grant funded program is optional. There are more than 2,500 public schools in Arizona.

A coach evaluates the school's implementation each year. A school must be competent in 15 of 16 areas to earn an exemplary rating.

There must be a positive result in reducing student referrals to the office.

Thirty to 50 percent reduction is pretty standard, Umbreit said.

Payson Elementary School

Principal Will Dunman, third-grade teacher Laurie White, and librarians Jennifer White and Stephanie Tuer collected data about where bad behavior was happening and what it was.

Fighting was the biggest issue PES faced at the beginning of the initiative.

There were 29 fights in the first quarter 2005/06 or 58 students not following the ‘Golden Rule.'

Dunman stood watch on the playground when there was not staff to do so.

The team implemented the Panther Pride motto: Be responsible. Be respectful. Be safe.

Next, they started asking students what behaviors matched the motto.

"Line up when the bell and whistle blows," is one of the ways the kindergarten through fifth graders decided they could be respectful on the playground.

"Take care of the field and equipment; no picking grass," is one of the ways they choose to be responsible.

"Walk around the swings to get on," is a way to be safe.

Panther Pride posters are posted on walls in the common areas of PES.

The number of fights dropped to 18 for the first quarter of the 2006/07 school year.

This year, teachers have begun to translate the motto into their individual classrooms.

"Keep your hands, feet and equipment to yourself," is the way music students are respectful in Julie Davies' classroom. It is also a way they can be safe on the risers.

Turning in homework on time and telling the truth are two ways Katie Hoff's second grade students have decided they can be responsible.

Fights at PES have decreased just over 75 percent, to seven incidents in the first quarter of 2007/08.

"Tell me what you should be doing. What can you do differently next time," are the questions Dunman asks the children when they misbehave.

Overall infractions, including harassment and defiance are down 20 percent from 59 at the start, to 39 currently.

The behavior team, with the loss of Tuer and the additions of Davies and Title One teacher Alison Randall, is focused on positive rewards.

Students who follow the rules of good behavior enjoy quarterly games such as Bump Out and Bingo. They have enjoyed popsicle treats.

The names of students who earned a red panther paw have been put into a drawing by grade level for such things as an off-campus visit to a restaurant for lunch.

An assembly in January will focus on ways to speak respectfully, Dunman said.

The newest terminology for the Panther Pride signs on campus for 2008 will state "we are..." instead of "be."

"I have to attribute the award to the staff. They have great expectations of our students," Dunman said.

Rim Country Middle School

"We are pleased to receive this award recognizing our hard work over the past three years," RCMS principal Monica Nitzsche said.

RCMS hired Lori Standifird as the intervention specialist.

RCMS has implemented the choices and challenges curriculum.

Middle school students are undergoing adolescence. That means hormone changes and developmental stages.

When a student misbehaves, he or she completes a personal responsibility plan in Standifird's classroom. The goal is to help each student better understand their behavior and how to change it from a negative, to a positive.

Keeping track of minor infractions (such as students who talk out-of-turn in class or throw things, which keeps others from learning) is an ongoing task. But teachers are able to get help quicker and they can see consistency in behaviors throughout the day.

Students with good behavior are rewarded with fun activities.

On Dec. 21 there will be a rally in the gym with skits and raffles.

This past year, the best-behaved students went to see a Suns basketball game and had their picture taken with team members. This year, 20 students will each get to choose a friend to take to the Titanic exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.