Positive Results in Golf; Positive Behavior in Schools
Early in Monday night’s Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer lauded the members of Strath Haven High School’s golf team for its remarkable season. The undefeated team was champion of the Central League and also of PIAA District 1, a double feat which had never before been accomplished.
Dr. Megan McCullough, director of student services and behavioral health, introduced the meeting’s focus topic with a presentation on Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, which WSSD began implementing in its three elementary schools last spring. PBIS is a three to five year preventative process for creating safer and more effective schools by focusing on improving a school’s ability to teach and support positive behavior. PBIS is data driven and is individualized to work with the unique aspects of different schools. Utilizing a team based approach to problem solving, PBIS anticipates student misbehaviors to correct them. Students gain competence and confidence through this “social emotional” learning process. (The approach is discussed in depth at PBIS.org.)
At the meeting, Dr. McCullough described a variety of mandates and guidelines that have supported the implementation of PBIS across WSSD schools. She stated that the impacts of social emotional learning are both short and long term and can include improved academic achievement, attendance, and mental health. To start the prevention process in the WSSD, administrators identified three behavioral expectations/preferred behaviors to focus on: Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful.
Principals of WSSD’s three elementary schools attended Monday night’s meeting to provide an insight into what being safe, responsible, and respectful means at their schools.
Dr. Gabe Savage, principal of Wallingford Elementary School (WES), commented on the community-building potential of PBIS, emphasizing that the time spent on students’ social emotional wellbeing will pay off now and in the future by helping them develop into the best possible citizens they can be. Dr. Al Heinle, principal of Nether Providence Elementary School, described the excitement that both teachers and students showed during the first week of school focused on PBIS. Dr. Heinle said that PBIS is shaping who NPE students are, by defining the values that they believe in. Lastly Dr. Angela Tuck, principal of Swarthmore-Rutledge School, brought to light the importance of consistency as all three elementary schools teach students the same set of values. WSSD administration reports improvements to the environments of the three schools after the implementation of PBIS.
Also at the Monday night meeting, relatives and members of Strath Haven High School’s cheerleading team gathered to voice concerns about the funding of the team, whose members will not be able to attend national championships this year. Thomas Bennett, a “cheer parent” representing the cheerleaders, described the problems that have arisen from the cheerleaders only being able to attend nationals bi-annually. For example, some students will not have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills their senior year, which inhibits their ability to pursue college scholarships. Other cheer parents took to the podium to describe how the team has already adapted to stress because of the financial burden on families, and to assert that the cost of joining the team should not be a deterrent to participating.