Richmond County middle, elementary schools honored for discipline

By: By Christine S. Carroll -

Four Richmond County schools have been honored for implementing a discipline-enhancing program designed to “catch students doing something good.”

Rockingham Middle School, and East Rockingham, Monroe Avenue and Washington Street Elementary schools have been awarded “Green Ribbon” honors for noteworthy performance under the state’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Initiative. School representatives will attend a ceremony in November, honoring the successes of their first year of implementing PBIS.

“Today’s kids react and interact somewhat differently” from those who attended schools in a society not swamped by social media, said Theresa Gardner, principal of Rockingham Middle. Approaches to discipline have had to change as society changed.

At Rockingham Middle, that means technology has met discipline.

Students wear ID badges that contain QR codes — digital fingerprints that hold their school data. When a teacher or administrator sees a student behaving well — perhaps helping someone who dropped an armload of books rather than laughing — she can scan the code to record the good deed and confer on the student a number of points.

At the end of a given period, administrators tally the points they have recorded and allow students to “buy” something from a school store or attend special gatherings. At Rockingham Middle, students spend the last hour each Friday — called Fun Fridays — in small celebrations.

At Washington Elementary School, the first letters of the school mascot recall the behavior code for students: Eagles Act responsible, Give respect, Listen every day and Encourage others. Good acts range from flushing the rest room toilet after each use to following directions to keeping one’s hands to herself.

All elementary and middle schools in Richmond County use PBIS, but some are further along in implementation than others.

Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, the state Department of Public Instruction allowed all PBIS schools to seek recognition for well-implemented programs. Such schools must document how well they have implemented the program, keep data and undergo inspection visits.

In Rockingham Middle’s case, Gardner said, every staff member at the school had to know the school’s “matrix” — “Rocket Respect. Rocket Responsibility. Rocket Safety” — in case an inspector asked for a recitation. That meant administrators, teachers, custodians and lunch workers all needed to know it.

All Green Ribbon schools have tested at least 80 percent on inspection visits.

By Christine S. Carroll

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.