Granville schools focus on ‘positive behavior’

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Model courtesy of Paul Morcone. The three-tiered Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports model followed by Mary J. Tanner School and Granville Elementary School assessing interventions at a universal, targeted and intensive approach based on a student’s needs.
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The three Granville Central School District principals delivered a presentation on the importance of character education and how their respective schools are aiming to reinforce and implement positive behavioral development.

Mary J. Tanner School principal Paul Morcone began the presentation by explaining the definition and existence of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and how those tie into his school’s motto of “Find a Way.”

“Basically, it is a three-tiered situation,” Morcone said. “One (the universal approach), we have school-wide interventions that are just in the general classroom, kind of like our Family Transition Support Services (FTSS) tier one academic interventions. This is under the umbrella of FTSS except it’s more behavioral.

“Tier two (the targeted approach), obviously, we need to start targeting a student or situation that they need some guidance on, where it could be data-driven to find those results,” Morcone said. “And then there’s a tier three (the intensive approach) in which students with intense or chronic behavior challenges, what can we do to offset that?”

Morcone said he felt it was important to mention that PBIS is not necessarily positive, tangible reward-driven, nor operating in a single classroom, and is not designated specifically for younger-aged children.

“It’s a philosophy that we want to target students with behavior challenges and students who aren’t, and we don’t want them in those particular situations,” Morcone said. “It has to be all-encompassing.”

Mary J. Tanner school, operates under three basic building principles identified as the “three Bs” – “Be Safe, Be Kind and Be Responsible” – and rewards and reinforces students for positive behavior in school with opportunities to eat lunch with faculty, picking tangible items with accumulated “Bee Bucks” and adapting to the “character word of the month.”

To enforce self-regulation of emotions, Morcone said he has found the first year and almost end of the second year of the “Resolution Room” at his building to be very effective, along with bi-weekly “student-focused” counseling team meetings and the formation of grief and loss groups.

At Granville Elementary School, principal Cara Talmadge embraces the theme of “You Matter” under a multi-tiered system of support umbrella that encompasses a whole student with involvement in social/emotional wellness, academics and behavioral PBIS.

Her school also rewards students for positive decision-making with “Bee Bucks” that can be spent on tangible items or even gifts for friends and family at the holiday store.

Talmadge noted a fun leadership opportunity for sixth graders to nominate fourth and fifth graders who “are making positive choices in lunch.” Sixth graders are also eligible for rewards after being nominated by their teachers.

A “mindup curriculum” helping students learn self-regulation by teaching the parts and functions of the brain. The section touches on handling stress and emotions, forming positive relationships and acting with kindness.

Granville Junior/Senior High School principal Lisa Meade spoke last, specifically on her building’s work in being identified as a location that has “No Place for Hate.”

Focused primarily on anti-bullying initiatives, Meade listed close to a dozen PBIS programs and initiatives conducted at the high school level, including the No Place for Hate group, the Unified Sports basketball team and an anti-bias professional development session.

The “Good Apple Award” through Hicks Orchard, coat and cereal drives and senior community service day are also featured events happening through the high school building.

Superintendent Tom McGurl acknowledged the efforts of Meade, Morcone and Talmadge in a May 10 email to NYVTmedia.

“Character education is one component of student development and management,” McGurl said. ‘The admin team and our staff work very hard to help our students develop the skills needed to be successful and well-adjusted adults.

“This, of course, is a partnership with parents and guardians. Character education works in conjunction with traditional forms of student management.”

Granville Board of Education president Audrey Hicks was impressed by the commitment of the administrators to establish positive decision making in Granville students of all ages.

“I thought the administration did an excellent job sharing what they are doing with character education at each building level,” Hicks said. “Character education encourages students to make good decisions which hopefully will lead to improved behavior and keep students engaged in a positive manner.”

Teacher’s probation extended

Following a closed-door session that lasted well more than an hour, the Granville Board of Education agreed to extend a probation period for a teacher for another year.

Katherine Beach’s probation period was set to expire this year, according to school superintendent Tom McGurl.

With board member Kim Bascom abstaining from the vote, the board approved the extension of Beach’s probation appointment until Aug. 31, 2023.

“Depending on a teacher’s prior tenure status, a probationary period could be either three or four years,” McGurl said. “Ms. Beach’s probationary appointment was set to expire at the end of this school year.”

Asked about the potential positives and negatives of extending an employee’s probation period without being specific to language used in executive session, McGurl said: “This is really not a hypothetical or abstract question given last night’s meeting.”