Five PYLUSD schools recognized for outstanding positive behavioral programs for students

Five Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) campuses have been distinguished by the California PBIS Coalition for excellence in implementing a robust Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. Mabel Paine, Rose Drive, and Wagner elementary schools as well as Tuffree Middle School and Esperanza High School have all earned the “California PBIS Community Cares” Award.

The California PBIS Coalition oversees a statewide effort to implement a recognition system to acknowledge schools for implementing PBIS with fidelity to the national framework. According to their respective levels of implementation, schools are typically given the opportunity to apply to be recognized as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2019-2020 school year, the coalition modified this year’s award to be “one-size-fits-all.”

According to the California Department of Education, PBIS is an approach that focuses on the emotional and behavioral learning of students, which leads to an increase in engagement and a decrease in problematic behavior over time. It assists schools in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions that improve social and emotional behavior outcomes for all students.

Mabel Paine.As a part of Mabel Paine Elementary School’s PBIS program, students are expected to be “Mindful Mustangs” by doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. By exhibiting the positive behaviors outlined in the school’s PBIS matrix, students earn Mustang Money to spend on incentives both in the classroom and around campus. During the school closures towards the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the school still made it a point to support students’ social and emotional needs through one-on-one Zoom sessions. Principal Melanie Carmona and her school came up with innovative ways to connect with Mabel Paine’s students virtually during this time through various videos for students and families alike to enjoy.

“Our PBIS system is the foundation upon which we build learning. I am so incredibly proud of our Mabel Paine ohana for their unflagging support of one another,” Principal Carmona said. “Our staff continues to find unique and caring ways to keep students and families connected to school, and our lack of behavior issues last spring during emergency learning is proof of the strong bond our students share with adults on campus.”

Rose Drive.Rose Drive Elementary has a strong school-wide PBIS program. Its mission is to partner with their community of staff, students, and families to promote academic achievement in an environment where students are safe, there and ready to learn, act responsibly, respectfully, and show compassion. The Roadrunners always focus on Tier 1 supports in their Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) in order to meet the academic, and behavioral/social needs of all students. Some of the school’s Tier 1 supports include a monthly character trait lesson and award, school-wide matrix of scholarly student expectations, big and little buddies, STARS tickets and rewards, universal screening, and more.

“Ultimately, I could not be more proud of our students, staff, and community for the way they all shared incredible GRIT during the last few months of our 2019-2020 school year,” Principal Kathleen Escaleras-Nappi shared. “According to the dictionary grit is defined as, “Unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” The pandemic caused our world to change and our staff, community and students maintained many of our routines and events such as morning announcements, award assemblies, weekly kindness Flipgrids, a Youtube Book Nook with a focus on the character trait of the month, and even school wide assemblies during distance learning. It may have been different but it had a positive impact on our students and community as we asked students to continue their scholarly behavior at home and show their resilience and positive growth mindset. They became our heroes!”

Wagner Elementary.During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Wagner Elementary School’s staff rallied to support students and families not only academically, but behaviorally and socio-emotionally through the school’s PBIS implementation of the “Wagner Ways.” Teachers directly taught the Wagner Wildcat Ways of being Respectful, Responsible, Ready, and Safe in the context of distance learning. They operationally defined for students what positive and appropriate behaviors need to look like during Zoom meetings, Flipgrid videos, Screencastify videos, and posts exchanged in Google Classrooms. Principal Janice Weber hosted a virtual spirit week where students sent pictures of themselves reading, with their pets, wearing Wagner attire, and doing something active to be posted on the school’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Together, and through several other innovative initiatives, the school provided care, intervention, and much-needed support during the regular school year and throughout emergency distance learning.

“I couldn't be prouder of the Wagner teachers and staff for the value they place on students' wellness and behavior,” Principal Janice Weber stated. “PBIS has been a schoolwide priority at Wagner for many years. Teachers' and staff's efforts during the school year and during distance learning are to be commended. They take an individual interest in students and families. They believe in clearly communicating expectations and procedures to set students up for success. They believe in recognizing students' growth, effort, and progress in the areas of both character and academics. In person or remote, Wildcats are Ready, Respectful, Responsible, and Safe!”

Tuffree Middle.Tuffree Middle School’s PBIS team is composed of teachers, administrators, and parents that meet on a regular basis throughout the school year and take into account the opinions of students. To support their efforts, the school dedicates a weekly period nicknamed “SOAR” to address the social and emotional needs of students while emphasizing core values, organizational habits, and student expectations. Tuffree’s PBIS team has even developed a bank of powerful 20 minute lessons on such topics as emailing a teacher, cyberbullying, Zoom expectations, organization, conflict management, intro to college, and self advocacy to name a few. By utilizing their school-wide incentive system 5-Star, Tuffree Falcons are treated to reward BBQs and other benefits included in the school’s robust student recognition system.

"I'm so proud of the hard work and many hours this PBIS team has put in to develop a quality bank of SOAR lessons that specifically address the needs of middle school students,” Tuffree principal Cindy Freeman noted. “This team has positively impacted the culture of our campus in a big way."

Esperanza High.Esperanza High School’s PBIS program is centered around the concept of “Aztec PRIDE,” which was developed to create a culture of support and connectedness for their students. Students are reminded of this notion through branded cardinal and gold Aztec PRIDE signage on the school’s buildings and in every classroom, as well as on posters that define expected behaviors in all locations on campus. The sudden shift to distance learning last year required the school to quickly pivot and create ways to offer support to students and staff to keep them connected to school. With a focus on student and staff wellness and engagement, the EHS PBIS team utilized social media to develop fun and meaningful events and activities such as a Student Appreciation Virtual Assembly, Motivational Mondays, Wellness Wednesdays, Virtual Bingo, scavenger hunts, and more. In addition, the school offered a network of support for students who were struggling with either academic or social-emotional issues. Many Aztecs were able to receive virtual one-on-one support from a counselor, psychologist, or other intervention team members. Last year the school was awarded the PBIS Silver Award for their committed efforts in creating belonging spaces for students and offering a wide range of opportunities for them to get connected to school.

“As we begin this school year in a distance learning format, we look forward to continuing our efforts to keep students and staff connected and engaged, while providing the support that these challenging times require,” Principal Gina Aguilar shared. “I am proud of the collective efforts of our entire staff, and our PBIS committee in particular, for their unwavering commitment to sustaining the culture of Aztec PRIDE during unprecedented times and am honored that our efforts are once again being recognized by the California PBIS Coalition.”

The distinguished schools will be recognized on the California PBIS Coalition’s website rather than at the traditional in-person ceremony due to COVID-19. Click here to see the comprehensive list of 2019-2020 California PBIS Recognized Schools.

Keep up the positivity, PYLUSD!