Pontotoc school cited for discipline program

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Pontotoc Middle School’s new program to reward good behavior recently received statewide recognition.

It became the latest to be cited by Reach Mississippi as a Model School in the Positive Behavioral Intervention Support program.

In doing so, Pontotoc Middle joins a list of Model Schools in Northeast Mississippi, including Alcorn Central High, North Pontotoc Upper Elementary, South Pontotoc Elementary, South Pontotoc Middle, Houston Middle, Houston Upper Elementary, Houston Lower Elementary and Starkville’s Ward Stewart Elementary and Sudduth Elementary. There are about 40 such schools in the state.

“That is very significant because positive behavior supports has only been in Mississippi for about 10 years,” Sydney Wise, technical assistance specialist with Reach Mississippi, said of reaching Model School status.

“Pontotoc Middle really started its program this past fall, so for them to be a model site within a year is tremendous. It is usually a three- to five-year process.”

Pontotoc’s Middle program includes awarding Warrior Bucks for students who demonstrate good behavior throughout the day, said Murray Collum, a fifth-grade English and language arts teacher at the school. That may include those with good attendance or who do their homework or who “go above and beyond.”

Students can use their bucks to enter weekly contests for small prizes. They also must earn and save a certain number over the course of nine weeks to participate in a large outing with classmates. Past celebrations have included a field day, movie day and trip to Tupelo’s Ballard Park.

Since implementing the program, the 376-student fifth- and sixth-grade school has had fewer discipline issue, assistant principal Clint Jordan said.

Reach Mississippi was created by a grant the state education department received 10 years ago from the U.S. Department of Education. It is housed at the University of Southern Mississippi and provides training for teachers throughout the state, including on the positive behavior program.

When schools have 80 percent of the system in place, the can apply for model school status. They are then evaluated based on a nationally-researched assessment, Wise said.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com