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Program seeks to encourage positive hallway interactions between students at MVMS

Students at Goffstown's Mountain View Middle School are working with a new program designed to encourage positive behavior and relationships.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, was rolled out at the beginning of the school year, and according to Assistant Superintendent Brian Balke, staff and students alike are responding favorably.

'It's been incredibly well-received,' Balke said.

The program was funded by a $20,000 grant shared by Goffstown and the Hampton school districts.

'It's a schoolwide behavioral program that focuses on positive interaction with students and has consistent behavioral expectations across all school settings and all school staff,' said Assistant Superintendent Brian Balke.

According to Balke, the focus is primarily on behavior during unstructured transitional time, such as in hallways, bathrooms, the school cafeteria and arrival and dismissal times.

'We developed a consistent framework and language, and a school wide matrix of expected behaviors in different settings,' Balke said, with the operative word being consistency.

While Balke said there weren't necessarily a host of behavioral problems at the school, there is always room for improvement.

'I wouldn't say there were a lot of problems,' he said, 'but any time you have a large middle school, focusing on a consistent approach to student discipline is a primary goal.'

Teacher Leslie Brigagliano, who is on the PBIS leadership team and is also an MVMS parent, said she is delighted with how the program is changing student behavior.

'Students have really embraced this wholeheartedly,' she said, and Jessica Biron, a member of the PBIS leadership team, said staff has reacted in the same way.

'Their buy-in to the program has really been phenomenal,' she added.

Students have been introduced to the four components of 'Paws Pride,' which are respect, responsibility, community and pride, and Mountain View Assistant Principal Jennifer Gillis said the goal is for all students to know what those concepts mean and live them at school.

Teams have done a number of things to instill school pride, including taking responsibility for maintaining barrels of flowers outside of the school and taking ownership of school grounds.

Consistency in expectations has allowed staff to pay more attention to instruction and learning, Gillis said.

An example is the school's universal 'quiet sign,' which is a simple raised hand by staff, that enables them to get students to settle down without resorting to yelling.

'It's amazing to see 300 kids get quiet in 25 seconds,' she said. 'It's a really positive way to get them settled.'

The program is currently used at Bartlett Elementary School and New Boston Central School, and Jude Chauvette, NBCS principal, said it has been successful there.

'What I like about it is that if focuses on the positive,' Chauvette said, as well as the consistency in rules with all staff.

'If everyone plays by the same rules, there isn't a problem,' he said. 'Any time you can get all adults on the same page, it's a good thing.'

Balke said that, so far, he is pleased with the program's early results.

'I'm incredibly impressed with how the faculty has embraced this, and equally impressed with our students,' he said. 'Kids have noticed a difference in those transition times.'

Brigagliano said she expects PBIS to bring about a culture change at the school, and Biron said it will be woven into other school events, such as the school's upcoming Turkey Trot.

'It's becoming a large part of our life here at Mountain View, which is nice to see,' she said.

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