Warren County School District officials are excited about the possibility for transformation that a pilot program could bring to the schools in the Youngsville area.
In response to issues that arose at the school over the course of the last school year, Youngsville Elementary Middle School and Youngsville High School were selected as the sites for the pilot of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support.
Administrators from both buildings, as well as a team of staff from each building, recently attended training on the model and spoke positively of what they learned.
According to the Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network, the program is "an evidence-based, cost-effective, systems approach for establishing the school culture needed for schools to be effective learning environments for all students. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports eliminates barriers to learning, creates and maintains a safe and effective learning environment in schools, and ensures that all students have the social and emotional skills needed to succeed in school and beyond (and) creates student behavioral health and academic support systems, and applies data-based decision making to discipline, academics, and social/emotional learning."
"My background is social work," said YHS administrator Mary Ann Mead. "Education has caught up with behavior, social work and systems," she said.
Mead explained how this model has the chance to improve the public perception of the schools in the western attendance area.
"We had a lot of bad press this year," she said. "A lot of good things (are) happening at Youngsville High School and YEMS."
Summarizing the model, Mead said "it is a shift from a punitive (approach) to positive, reactive to positive that we're not always going to be reactive, (we're) going to be preventative.
"It is not a top down program, it is a bottom up program," she continued. "A difference in philosophy from what we are used to."
YEMS Principal Erie Mineweaser said the initiative would be instituted in phases. "We're ready to roll this out," he said. "I believe it is going to be a success.
"It's not a program, it's changing the school culture."
The discussion then shifted to dialogue about how, and whether, the district is assessing initiatives that were rolled out in past years.
Bullying programs, which vary throughout the district, were cited as an example.
"When do we answer the question, 'do we need six or seven bullying programs out there," Board President Arthur Stewart asked. "We have dwindling resources, is this the program where we are going to want to invest ourselves?"
"We do have shifts in staff," said Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny, speaking in support of a consistent program throughout the district, "When you have building administration or teachers moving from building to building and the climate is the same then (you have) created consistency."
"Beaty does have a specific program," she said of the Rachel's Challenge program instituted last year. "If we have a community wide one for the district, that is a good thing."
"Not all schools qualify for the same thing," said Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gary Weber. "I think you should be looking at programming. Over the last couple years programming has been shrinking. You kind of go with what the community offers. We do that academically, (and are) now trying to do that behaviorally."
Administration indicated that reports on the effectiveness of programs would be brought to future committee meetings.