Thomas E. Kerns Elementary Recognized for Positive Behavior Program
Students at Thomas E. Kerns Elementary know what the four B’s stand for, they follow Behavior Rules posted throughout the school, and they know what to do to earn PURR Paws. These are just a few examples of how the school earned the state’s highest award from the State Department of Education as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) school.
“From the moment they walk through the doors in the morning until they leave at the end of the day, they are constantly responding to and participating in the positive behavior strategies we have implemented,” said Erin Darnell, leader of the school’s PBIS Team. “This proactive approach to teaching social behavior creates a welcoming school environment for everyone.”
Before school starts, students practice the four B’s – back against the wall, bottom on the floor, book bag in the lap, and body in control. They can read silently and give a “silent hello” by waving to their teacher and friends. “Establishing clear expectations for everyone in the building is foundational to the success of our program. Clearly identifying, teaching, and practicing these expectations make Thomas E. Kerns an Exemplar School,” says Judy Mulkey, principal.
“PBIS is embedded into everything we do,” said Darnell. “Students learn the rules at the beginning of the school year. They spend two days practicing the rules for the hallways, playground, cafeteria, and school bus,” she said. Students earn Performing with an Understanding of Respect and Responsibility (PURR) Paws when staff members observe their good behavior. PURR Paws can be redeemed for prizes at the school store.
Every morning, following the Pledge of Allegiance, students recite the PURR Pledge: “I pledge to be prepared to learn. I pledge to follow directions politely. I pledge to respect everyone at our school. I pledge to be responsible for my own actions. At Thomas E. Kerns, I PURR with pride. I Perform with an Understanding of Respect and Responsibility.”
Teachers encourage their classes to be recognized on the WOW Walk of Fame wall outside the cafeteria. Classes can earn WOW passes for appropriate behavior on fire drills, in the cafeteria, and during playground lineups. Rewards might include 10 minutes of extra recess, sock day, or lunch on the stage. There’s time for students to release some energy, too, when teachers stop for “brain breaks” such as tossing bean bags or juggling small foam footballs while practicing spelling words.
Reinforcing positive behavior is not just for the students. The PBIS Leadership Team comprised of one teacher per grade level, administrators, and district liaison meet monthly to discuss trends in behavior and develop ways to continually improve school behavior. They also develop messages with suggestions of PBIS-like strategies that parents can implement at home. Additionally, staff members recognize each other with “Spotlight on Success” notes (aligned with the school theme) in the teacher workroom.
TEK is one of only three schools in the state to earn the 2013 Exemplar Award. The school previously earned the Exemplar Award in 2011.