By MARC VALERO
SEBRING — Five Highlands County schools were recognized recently for their campus-wide efforts in promoting and exhibiting positive student behavior.
The following School Board of Highlands County schools were recognized for their active participation in the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which is a way for schools to encourage good behavior:
• Park and Sun ‘N Lake elementary schools achieved the Gold Level status.
• Avon Park High and Fred Wild Elementary reached the Silver Level status.
• Woodlawn Elementary earned the Bronze Level status.
Highlands District PBIS Coordinator Pete Borghese said the district’s nine schools that have implemented PBIS have staffs that have made a big commitment to the program.
The idea behind PBIS is to make a positive climate for the learning community, he said. With that positive climate comes increased learning and also increased staff and student satisfaction with the learning process.
It has been shown that there are significant improvements when schools become PBIS schools, Borghese said. The model schools really function as exemplars. Avon Park High School is a case in point.
“One of the things that I thought was so cool about Avon Park High School and their implementation of PBIS — they have integrated students at every level of PBIS and they do presentations to their peers on the school’s PBIS system,” he said. “They are integrated throughout the whole process of the implementation.
“That is a Gold Standard right there. Although they only earned Silver, in my opinion that is the epitome of integration and effectiveness.”
Every school is like a different community and they implement the program in different ways, but a visit to any of the PBIS schools will show that there are very clear standards for behavior, which are followed, Borgehese said.
He observed a class at Sun ‘N Lake Elementary recently and noted how well the children were learning and how enthusiastic they were in their learning.
PBIS notes a few differences between the traditional approach to student behavior and PBIS.
Traditional is reactive — personnel wait for problems to happen. PBIS is proactive — personnel design ways to prevent or reduce the likelihood of problem behavior.
Traditional focuses on ways to punish behavior, while PBIS personnel focus on ways to teach and reward behavior.