Mississippi Department of Education requires all schools and districts across the state to have a multi-tiered system of supports implementation plan to provide a continuum of support for students both academically and behaviorally. Quitman School District is adopting Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports while continuing their work as a Leader in Me district as their framework for the behavioral side of the MTSS process.
Reach MS – State Coordinator Selina Merrell, MS, Ed stands in front of Quitman School District faculty and staff in the QHS Library. The visit is a result of a two-year REACH MS Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) K – 12 training and technical assistance grant QSD received from Reach MS. Today is the third day of meeting from 8:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Merrell and school representatives have been collaborating to develop the most effective district-wide Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) ever put in place.
QJH Assistant Principal Kristen Schrimpshire explains, “This process is a first for us to collaborate district wide. We came together and set expectations for students at all levels. We are going to keep everything consistent throughout the district. Everyone will speak the same language, walk the same walk, and talk the same talk. Though the expectations will be the same, individual schools will have their own procedures for dealing with specific behaviors.”
The district’s expectations are clear, and a Panther paw provides a simple illustration.
Merrell assists with helping the schools create a precision statement. She is asking them to provide answers to questions which ask, “How are we going to change our system to change the behaviors we are seeing from our students?”
She explains, “PBIS is about systems.
Systems are important and so are relationships. There is a spirit to PBIS, and kids feel it when we are teaching them appropriate behavior rather than having a punitive approach.
Behaviors are habits.
To learn something new, it takes an average of 8 times doing it. To break a habit and replace it takes about 28 times of doing it. We are competing with so much other stuff.
It’s about changing the environment. Students won’t change if we don’t change.”
Three days have provided time to develop systems for supporting faculty and staff to improve outcomes for students. Development of leadership teams, data based decision making processes, meeting schedules to review and modify systems throughout the school year as data indicates have all been established. Merrell will be visiting at least every other month but plans to have continued communication with each school.
“It usually takes a school a semester to do what these people did in a couple of days. I’m really impressed with the dedication and focus I’ve seen here,” she explains.
Federal Programs Director Dr. Minnie Dace, “By receiving this grant it’s going to help us bring consistency to our district. Between Leader in Me, PBIS, and MTSS, we will create a dynamic system which will greatly influence our accountability.”
With all the great minds in this room developing systems to increase the accountability of themselves, their students, and their district, there is little doubt that they will do what Dr. Dace describes as, “We’ll blow the top off of how great this school district is. Nothing like this has ever been done district wide, and I am very grateful to be here while we’re doing it now!”