Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Schools implement a proactive approach to create a positive learning environment

December 9, 2020

 

How do I know what’s expected of me? What does it look like if I’m being respectful or safe or responsible? How do I know if I’m successful? How do I know what I need to do to improve?  Many schools in Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency (PLAEA) are asking these or similar questions as they determine whether to implement a multi-tiered system of support framework known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a proactive approach that schools use to improve school safety, promote positive behavior, and create a learning environment where all feel a sense of belonging. There are various components a school implements to create environments that are predictable, consistent, safe, supportive, and positive. The ultimate purpose of PBIS is to create a school where students succeed. 

Melissa Wurth is a School Psychologist and the PBIS Coordinator for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency and has been involved with this work since 2007. 

“These are your values and concepts to help students engage successfully in school,” Wurth said. “It defines what kindness, respect, trustworthiness, and other characteristics look and sound like, and helps students and adults embrace what their school stands for, and what it looks like in action.”

When a school expresses interest in investigating the framework as a way to address culture/climate issues,  Wurth meets with leadership, and then the school staff to provide an overview of PBIS and answer any questions. Each staff member participates in a survey to determine readiness. In order to move forward, at least 80 percent of staff must indicate that they are ready to engage and implement. Implementation is guided by the school’s PBIS Team, which includes the PLAEA behavior team member who serves that school. Wurth provides training, coaching, ongoing support, and connects schools with one another. She also provides participating schools with a monthly newsletter that includes tips and links to resources and materials.

“I’m very passionate about helping students gain effective skills and strategies socially, emotionally,  and behaviorally,” Wurth said. “I have a master’s degree in counseling and originally planned to work with children providing therapeutic services, so this feels like a good fit for me. One of the things I enjoy the most is working with students, and with PBIS I can also have an impact working with systems.”

There is also Early Childhood PBIS that centers on the preschool experience so that students can move seamlessly into the school environment. That work is led by Marcie Lentsch and Katie Kauffman, who support Early Childhood within Prairie Lakes AEA. 

This work is funded by a grant through the United States Department of Education. This funding supports the Center on PBIS which provides multiple resources, as well as continually monitors and collects research to demonstrate that those involved are implementing PBIS with fidelity. Over 26,000 schools from across the country and at least 11 countries are in various stages of implementing the PBIS framework.

Here is the list of schools in PLAEA who are implementing PBIS:

Elementaries

  • Alta-Aurelia
  • Butler (Fort Dodge)
  • Clay Central-Everly
  • Community Christian (Fort Dodge)
  • Cooper (Fort Dodge)
  • Duncombe (Fort Dodge)
  • Eagle Grove
  • East Sac County
  • Estherville Lincoln Central, Demoney
  • Feelhaver (Fort Dodge)
  • Graettinger-Terril
  • Greene County
  • Humboldt (Mease and Taft)
  • Manson Northwest Webster 
  • Newell-Fonda
  • North Union
  • Okoboji
  • Pleasant View (Webster City)
  • Pocahontas Area
  • Prairie Valley
  • Riverside (Fort Dodge)
  • Ruthven-Ayrshire
  • Schaller-Crestland
  • St. Edmond (Fort Dodge)
  • Sioux Central
  • South Hamilton
  • Southeast Valley
  • Southeast Webster Grand, Dayton Center
  • Stratford
  • Sunset Heights (Webster City)
  • Twin Rivers
  • West (Emmetsburg)

Middle Schools

  • Alta-Aurelia
  • Community Christian (Fort Dodge)
  • East Sac County
  • Emmetsburg
  • Fort Dodge
  • Graettinger-Terril
  • Newell-Fonda
  • North Union
  • Okoboji
  • Robert Blue (Eagle Grove)
  • Ruthven-Ayrshire
  • St. Edmond (Fort Dodge)
  • Southeast Valley
  • Storm Lake
  • Webster City

High Schools

  • Emmetsburg
  • Fort Dodge
  • Graettinger-Terril
  • Okoboji
  • Ruthven-Ayrshire
  • Southeast Valley
  • Webster City

Alternative Settings

  • Lakes Partnership School (Spencer)
  • Midwest Christian Services (Sioux Central)
  • North Central Consortium School (Manson Northwest Webster)
  • PRIDE/CARES (Fort Dodge)

For More Information:

Connie Johnson, Communications Director

 

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