Students and staff at Mannington Middle are getting with the program. The good behavior program, that is.

Steve Malnick, the school’s dean of students, said the staff is focusing on rewarding positive behavior, instead of just punishing bad behavior. It’s part of a program from the state board of education called Positive Behavior Support.

“We’ve been doing some preventive maintenance,” Malnick said.

The school’s faculty and staff have been very receptive to the program, which has helped make it a success, he said. The faculty’s enthusiasm has spread to the students, making widespread changes in behavior.

“We’re seeing a big change in behavior here,” Malnick said. “We’ve had a decline in office referrals and data is showing violations of school rules are dropping.”

Staff sets up the criteria describing what students are expected to do and they let the students know.

“Sometimes they (students) don’t know how to act,” Malnick said. “So we acknowledge them when they follow through.”

The program is slightly different for the school’s two levels of students. In the fifth and sixth grades, they’re using a ticket system. Students receive tickets for doing the right thing, whether it’s bringing all their class materials or coming to class on time. Malnick said the staff tracks behavior trends, then works to target that area. For example, if they notice a fair number of students not coming to class on time, teachers begin handing out tickets to those students that do arrive on time.

Students can then cash in tickets for prizes.

The program is slightly different for the seventh and eighth graders. Teachers create their own incentive program each month for a specific problem. Students who go with the program may receive a variety of prizes, from lunch with the teacher to free passes for a sports event.

Malnick said the program is helping to prepare students for their high school and college education as well as entry to the workforce.

“School is just one part of a student’s life,” he said. “When a student comes to school, there are expectations in front of them. If they comply with them, it will train them to do well in school and later in the workplace. They’ll be good citizens.”

E-mail Katie Wilson at kwilson@timeswv.com.

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