Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Plainwell Middle School receives pair of awards

Plainwell Middle School students have free play with Legos as a reward for meeting behavioral standards. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

Plainwell Middle School recently received positive recognition from the State of Michigan in the form of two awards.
In addition to earning a Bronze Award for the implementation and impact of the building’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program, the school also received an MTSS Data Utilization Award for using data to enhance interventions and supports for students.
News of the awards came as a shock to assistant principal Ben Manting and other staff members.
“While these awards were new to me and not awards we sought out, it’s always nice to be recognized for hard work,” he said. “We have a PBIS team made up of teachers who have gone above and beyond to make sure our students are successful. They put in countless hours that many do not get to see.
“However nice it is to receive awards, though, the real celebration is for the impact our PBIS program is having on students. We have seen students make real growth in their behavior and increased pride in our school.”
The state presents the Bronze Award to schools that, according to fidelity data, are running a quality school-wide PBIS program. A survey of teachers and students regarding all aspects of the Plainwell Middle School PBIS program determined that the school was running such a quality program.
Silver and Gold-level awards are also available and involve creating more intensive supports for students with the most needs.
“These are things we are developing, but they are not fully implemented yet,” Manting said.
According to Manting, the implementation of PBIS programs dates back to the early 2000s as the result of a state-wide initiative.
An evidence-based program intended to impact student behavior and well-being in schools, PBIS programs provide schools with a way to explicitly teach expectation in every area of school.
Student behavior that meets these expectations are reinforced through incentives and prizes. Students who struggle to meet expectations provided extra interventions and supports to help them meet those expectations.
PBIS divides students up into three tiers: TIER I refers to all students in the building; TIER 2 refers to students that need extra supports to meet building expectations; and TIER 3 refers to students who need a specific plan with the support of a team to meet building expectations.
Despite the program’s good intentions, there was one major flaw, according to Manting.
“The problem was that many counties and districts mandated PBIS in their schools from the top down,” he said. “PBIS programs really thrive when they are created at the ground level by teachers with input from students and families.”
After experimenting with PBIS during its early days, the program eventually faded out at Plainwell Middle School. It returned three years ago.
“In 2019, the middle school was experiencing a rise in unwanted behaviors and suspensions,” Manting said. “In response, we joined a cohort of other schools in Allegan County that wanted to re-establish PBIS.
“With this cohort, we developed building-wide expectations and a system for rewarding positive behaviors.”
The foundation of the school’s PBIS program is the acronym PRIDE: Positivity, Respect, Integrity, Determination and keeping Everyone’s safety in mind.
Students who demonstrate behaviors consistent with PRIDE receive PRIDE Passes, which enter them into weekly drawings for prizes. Prizes range from candy, Plainwell apparel, gift cards donated by local businesses and free entry to athletic events.
Students also take part in building-wide challenges.
“For example, last year students who were passing all of their classes and had minimal behavior referrals got to participate in a school-wide dodgeball-style game called Rim Scatter against the school staff,” Manting said. “Other incentive opportunities have included popsicle parties, a school-versus-staff basketball game, free time and coupons for free Sweetwaters donuts.”
Manting praised the work done by the teachers at Plainwell Middle School to make its PBIS program so successful.
ELA teacher Jenny Kidder and science teacher Lacey Ramsey are the coaches for the program.
“Jenny and Lacey are amazing,” Manting said. “They deserve to be recognized for their outstanding work with our students through this program.”
The MTSS Data Utilization Award received by the school ties into the PBIS program. It was given to the school for maintaining accurate data around student discipline and using that data to make decisions to impact students.
“Our team analyzes data weekly to identify students for extra interventions and supports,” Manting said. “Also, monthly we analyze needs in the building and develop initiatives to address our areas of greatest need.”

Leave a Reply