Panther Pause column: Kids deserve it

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Dear Students: I believe in you. You are important. I'm here to help you grow. You are listened to. I will hold you to high expectations. I won't let you fail. You will have a fresh start every day. You will succeed.

If you have been in the elementary, middle, or high schools recently, there's a good chance you have seen these statements on the back of a staff member's shirt. Every teacher, paraprofessional, counselor, custodian, bus driver, cook, librarian, specialist, secretary, and administrator will proudly wear Panther blue shirts displaying these eight promises to our students. Not some of our students. Not most of our students. ALL of our students. Why? Because all kids deserve it. How? Allow me to dive further into how we are putting these words into action.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Koele and Mr. Nusbaum have spoken to the PBIS program we have put into effect throughout the district. So what does this look like for a student at SCC? At the middle school, students have spent time during Advisory learning and practicing appropriate behaviors for all the aspects of their school day. Students know these as our behavior teach-to's. Staff members assume nothing and teach everything. No longer are we okay with the phrase "well, they should know that already." Our students deserve better than that. They deserve clear expectations with no surprises, whether it's how to travel from class to class or how to show respect to a guest speaker during an all-school assembly. Throughout the school year, teachers will revisit and re-teach expected behaviors that ensure the safest and most productive learning environment possible.

Another key component of a properly implemented PBIS system is recognizing students who demonstrate expected behaviors. At a recent training, we learned of research that stated children will need positive interactions with a person to occur at a ratio of 5:1 to balance out each negative interaction. Anything short of that will make healthy, productive relationships difficult to achieve. Through our ROAR (Responsibility, Optimism, Awareness, Respect) program, staff are on the lookout for middle schoolers demonstrating these key characteristics during the school day. "ROAR bucks" are earned by students and can be spent twice a quarter on different incentives. Examples include eating lunch with a staff member or team of their choosing, their own art showcase window in the commons area, or a roster spot on a Staff vs. Students kickball game!

Our district's mission begins "To prepare our students with exceptional character..." It was not by accident that exceptional character was listed first. Our belief is that without it, students will be unable to obtain the rest of our mission: "...knowledge, and skills to thrive in their changing world." Through the hard work of our staff, as well as working closely with families and members of our Hammond and Roberts communities, we are confident every student will be prepared to do this. They deserve it.