Bryan County Middle School Science teacher Tracey Walker and Social Studies teacher Marie Patterson are both on the EBIS Committee for the school’s behavioral program. The women gave a presentation to the Board of Education on Sept. 27, providing information about the Effective Behavioral and Instructional Support program the school has been using.
"The kids can’t remember what EBIS really stands for, so one of our students came up with this catchy little saying, ‘Everybody Behaves in School,’ and it’s kind of stuck, and it makes sense to them," Walker said.
The program is a research-based program for disciplinary purposes that helps promote desired behavior from students.
"It works because it’s a unified plan that is structured, that everyone follows, that was designed by the school for the students’ needs," Walker said.
Principal Debbie Hamm had originally gotten an email from the Georgia Department of Education, saying they were going to start doing this new program. Walker said it has already been successfully used in other states across the country.
"EBIS, for our school, has created unification amongst the staff. Not only are the teachers involved, but the secretary, custodians, cafeteria, bus drivers, are all unified in this plan," Walker said.
She also said the school has created a Matrix, which includes all the rules and what students are expected to do in certain areas of the school, such as the hallways, multipurpose room, cafeteria, etc. It’s a basic chart that outlines the rules, and helps teaches the students exactly what’s expected of them.
"The rules are: Respect yourself, respect property, and respect others. We keep it simple because we want them to be able to remember them, and we just call them the Three R’s," Walker said.
The program is all about positive reinforcement, and there is also a points system. For example, students can get points each week for perfect attendance and can use their points for school supplies or a bathroom break, etc. Walker said each student gets 100 points at the beginning of the nine weeks, but can accrue points from all areas of the school for good behavior.
"It’s sort of like currency, and it teaches the students responsibility," Walker said, noting that nearly 95 percent of the students at BCMS are involved.
In other issues, the Board of Education upgraded its list of responsibilities and goals for the upcoming year, adding 10 new objectives. According to the update, provided by Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer, the board plans to:
- Continue to upgrade security on school grounds, installing cameras as needed and providing perimeter fencing for facilities;
- Help monitor the preventative maintenance procedures for support services by understanding how those aspects of the schools are run;
- Support teachers to implement school improvements, including the needs of individual children and plans for program changes;
- Ensure that instruction and practice of public speaking skills is included in curriculum for each grade level;
- Develop a list of procedures for field trips;
- Provide a list of Title IX athletic activities by gender;
- Provide board information on eBoard, paperless board meetings, and schedule training;
- Recruit bus monitors in addition to bus drivers to enhance children safety during transportation;
- Provide information about the Superintendent Parent Advisory Council to encourage parents’ input; and
- Continue to investigate acquisition of property for school sites.
Additionally, Assistant Superintendent Brad Anderson gave an overview of eBoard, a program that would switch current board meetings to paperless.
Anderson has already been to the training, and gave the board members information about what eBoard can bring to the meetings as well as what it can offer the community.
"There are so many ways you can organize this and make it work for you," Anderson said.
Mary Warnell, who has also been to eBoard information sessions, said eBoard is the direction all schools are heading in.
"If we wait, we’re going to be left in the dark," she said. "We’re way behind in technology compared to elsewhere."
The eBoard will be providing the board with an estimate of what the switch would cost. The board decided they would take a trip sometime soon, to a district already using the program, so they can see it in action and get a better idea of how a paperless meeting is run.
The program would allow the board to pick and choose what types of information would be accessible, for example board information only, versus information that can be offered to the public. The program would provide easy access and better tracking of the board’s goals; can provide current news about schools locally and nationwide; could list the schools’ calendars and upcoming meetings; offers a time-delay release on information; archives board meeting minutes and speeds up the agenda process; allows public feedback on pending school policies and/or new programs; provides the option of attaching agenda files and information instead of print offs, and also allows for computerized note taking during meetings.