Lead Principal Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll at Charlotte Central School catches The News up on school happenings. File photo

CCS lead principal explains the ins and outs of PBIS, PBL and beyond

Lynn Monty | Editor in Chief

Since Charlotte Central School is a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) school, Lead Principal Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll said it was time to implement a key piece of the program by acknowledging positive behavior in individual students. A “Be the Change at CCS” flyer has been distributed to parents to explain the new reward system.

The school’s version of PBIS has been working well since Komons-Montroll and her team recommitted to it last year, she said. “To do it with fidelity, you need to have an acknowledgment system,” she said. “We had one years ago.”

Komons-Montroll said it’s natural to acknowledge kids doing the right thing and that’s why this has been recently rolled out with renewed energy by collaborative efforts of a dedicated PBIS team at the school. “We were very thoughtful about the reward,” Komons-Montroll said. “It’s a penny that will be given back to the community and the children will choose the service they want to support.”

Champlain Valley School District Board Chair Dave Connery said PBIS is implemented in almost all Vermont schools and is the system that is recommended by the experts in the field. It includes a way to let students know when they have behaved appropriately, he said. “Schools in our district that have been implementing PBIS for several years now, including a token for good behavior, have seen great success,” Connery said.

Students are learning that if they do positive things, their class will get a reward, Connery said. “Kids are making the connection beyond just getting something,” he said. “They are learning good behaviors.”

The new board

CCS School Board meetings will end after this academic year when the district-wide Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) board officially takes over. CVSD has been up and running for a year in tandem with all Chittenden South Supervisory Union (CSSU) boards. “We have been having our meetings and there have not been many action items at all,” Komons-Montroll said of the CCS school board meetings.

Komons-Montroll has attended the shared topic meetings of the CVSD board. “It’s quality discourse in those meetings within that meeting and they are discussions across all of the schools,” she said.

CCS matters not large enough to be addressed at the CVSD meetings will continue to be presented and discussed at Parent-Teacher Organization meetings and staff meetings, Komons-Montroll said. “Specific details about how the new board operates are still being sorted out. The CVSD board will figure out the pieces,” she said.

CVSD Board Chair Dave Connery said the systems in place are developed through collaborative work of a leadership team that includes all principals, special education administrators and central office administrators. Challenges around behavior, and any other areas, will be brought to the team for help, input and brainstorming constructive solutions. For example, members of the board met weekly with CCS administration during the fall when behavior issues surfaced. “Together we developed plans for addressing the situation,” Connery said. “This way of operating was true before the consolidation and will continue to be true as we move forward.”

Proficiency-based learning

Another big change at CCS is the introduction of proficiency-based learning (PBL). Champlain Valley Union High School has been on board with PBL for about five years now, and CSSU middle schools are in the process of implementing the program. It’s part of the Agency of Education’s Flexible Pathways Initiative. What it means is that students have ongoing opportunities to understand curriculum before moving on to the next lesson plan.

Middle school students will now be given personalized learning plans. PBL flips the switch from measuring what teachers have covered in the classroom to what each individual student was able to retain. Since some students don’t pick up lessons the first time they are covered, PBL gives them more opportunities to do so before moving on.

CVSD’s Connery said PBL at CVU has been challenging and rewarding at the same time, and it has positioned CVU well in terms of meeting the new state requirements regarding proficiency. This year’s CVU freshman class will experience four years of PBL.

CCS has used this year to prepare for the shift. In terms of proficiency-based instruction, teachers are being supported by district and local instructional coaches and administration and are making the instructional shifts necessary to realize the promise and potential associated with proficiency-based graduation requirements, Connery said.

Next up

A “Reading to End Racism” program will begin March 13 at CCS to raise awareness of the harm racism causes. It’s a collaboration between vetted guest readers and teachers, Komons-Montroll said. Trained volunteers are invited into classrooms to read from age-appropriate books and facilitate group discussions.