P.S. Jones receives state recognition for behavior system

Published 7:33 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

P.S. Jones Middle School has received “Exemplar” recognition for its PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) system for the third year in a row.

PBIS is a system that rewards students for positive behavior and sets up steps of intervention before a student receives an office referral for bad behavior.

Kelly Makepeace, assistant principal at P.S. Jones Middle, said this is the highest honor the state Department of Public Instruction gives schools participating in the system.

To be eligible for recognition, a school must meet a list of criteria, which involves a decrease in discipline referrals, a decrease in suspensions, an increase in attendance, monthly meetings and intervention strategies, she said.

The middle school implemented the system several years ago and now has a variety of ways to implement it, including character education nominees, a teacher-student mentoring program, referrals for good behavior and a student PBIS team to give the administration feedback, according to Tracey Nixon, principal at P.S. Jones Middle.

Nixon said she even takes the time to write postcards to parents to let them know if their child has been rewarded for good behavior.

And it’s not just the students. Makepeace added that teachers are rewarded for going beyond the call as well, with simple rewards such as staff desserts and duty-free lunches.

“I think that after being in a PBIS school, teachers have said they could not teach in a school that is not PBIS,” she said. “That makes it very easy for a new teacher coming in.”

Nixon said one of the main advantages for implementing a PBIS system is the uniformity it gives a school regarding discipline. The students have the same set of rules and consequences from sixth to eighth grade, and this means they know what is expected of them, she said.

“What you do in Period 1, you have the same expectations and consequences in Period 2,” Nixon said. “It’s a fine-tuned system, but they definitely have it down now.”

She said there were kinks to work out upon implementing the program, but overall it has been a success at P.S. Jones Middle.

“I can tell you, though, we’ve come a long way,” Nixon said. “When you first implement something new, you get a little bit of push back.”

Another advantage of PBIS is how it gives parents more opportunities to be informed about their child’s discipline and also creates a relationship between the school and the parents, she said.

“It increases communication, and it gives the parent an opportunity to correct (bad behavior),” Nixon said. “I’m a firm believer in giving the parent the opportunity.”

In honor of the school’s achievement, P.S. Jones Middle will be recognized for its “Exemplar” status by the Beaufort County Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday night.

“Our goal is to decrease office referrals and have students in class more,” Nixon said. “It’s a prescribed method of what you need to do.”