Region’s Schools Reward Good Behavior in Effort to Improve Learning

(File photograph)

Throughout the month of August, WHAV provides a daily report counting down to the first day of school in Greater Haverhill.

When classes resume at the end of August, a growing number of schools in Greater Haverhill will rely on an approach to discipline that focuses on rewards for good behavior rather than punishment for unwanted actions.

PBIS, which stands for Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, has been implemented in several Haverhill schools, including Silver Hill, Consentino, J.G. Whittier and Nettle (pictured), as well as all Methuen schools.

Nettle Middle School Principal Tim Corkery said his school’s PBIS program sets clear social and behavioral expectations and directly teaches students what is acceptable. Using consistent, positive rewards to celebrate students’ success is intended to lead to a positive, safe atmosphere for learning, he said.

Nettle School kicked off its PBIS program in September 2015.

J.G. Whittier Principal Brian Gill and Assistant Principal Tim Betty instituted a similar program one year earlier. Gill described it as taking the opportunity to catch students doing good.

“Students who are observed following the behavioral expectations are reinforced with pink Nettle Notes,” Corkery explained. The students put their Nettle Notes into designated grade-level buckets. When the grade level bucket becomes full, the entire grade earns a reward. Students also are able to receive individual rewards.

Silver Hill School students collect tickets that can be given by any staff member who observes a student exhibiting one of the expected positive behaviors. Tickets are collected every Friday and rewards given. Students can choose to hold on to their tickets and turn in a larger number, and therefore a bigger prize.

At the Marsh School in Methuen, the recognition comes in the form of blue slips of paper called Marsh Stars. Like the pink Nettle Notes, they are tickets used to access rewards, which vary by grade level and can include announcements or small prizes for individual recognition as well as larger events for a classroom or entire grade level.

At Methuen’s Comprehensive Grammar School, students can earn Bulldog Bucks, which they can “spend” at a rewards raffle.

Methuen’s grammar schools have been using PBIS for the last three or four years, while Methuen High School instituted the system in the 2016-2017 school year.

The Therapeutic Education Assessment Center of Haverhill, referred to as the TEACH program at St. James School on Primrose Street, plans an open house for Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. The TEACH program meets the emotional, behavioral and academic needs of students with uniquely designed educational services. Visitors to the open house will have the opportunity to meet staff and visit classrooms.

The TEACH program opens its doors once a month to the community to display the work done by students. The first is during the open house, when students’ self portraits will be shown.

Parents and guardians are invited to monthly meetings. The first of this school year will be Thursday, Oct. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Haverhill Public Schools open their doors to students in grades 1 through 12 on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Kindergarten begins Sept. 5. All Haverhill students will attend for a half-day on Friday, Sept. 1, and enjoy a day off for Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4.

Regional first days are:

Pentucket: Aug. 31

Timberlane: Aug. 31

Methuen: Aug. 29

Whittier: Aug. 29 for freshmen and new students; Aug. 30 for all students

Sacred Hearts, Bradford: Wednesday, Aug. 30

Central Catholic High School: Sept. 7

Do you have a submission for the Back-to-School Countdown? Email information to [email protected]. Tune in tomorrow for more back-to-school information.