ST. MARYS — St. Marys Area School District principals told the board of directors Monday night about their efforts to promote positive behavior among students. Before their report, Superintendent J. Brian Toth told the board that the presentation would detail a more proactive approach to discipline than what many of them, himself included, likely experienced in grade school.
Principals from several schools presented to the board about efforts at each grade level.
South St. Marys Elementary School Principal Christine Kuhar said that the district’s three elementary schools all approached discipline similarly. Teachers are encouraged to promote positive behaviors like politeness and punctuality through activities and by recognition.
Students are also taught anti-bullying and bullying prevention through activities that are often tied to literature.
“We want resiliency to be the message to going into middle school for them. We know that there are going to be times that others are going to be unkind,” she said.
Fox Township Elementary School Principal Karen Lucanik told the board that one way the school tries to encourage good behavior is through positive affirmation.
“You get two ways to tell a message,” she said. “The negative, the controlling –don’t, avoid, stop – or, you can get the positive message: collaborate, communicate.”
Principal Noel Petrosky told the board that the three behavioral tenets students are taught are respect, responsibility and effort. He said that student achievement is tracked, and that faculty to talk to children about their good grades as well as their not-so-good.
“We keep meticulous records of who’s failing in the school, and when kids get off that list, I make sure to see them in the hall and say, ‘Hey, I noticed your grades are getting better, way to go,” he said.
Petrosky also talked about the different ways students can spend their time during their eighth class period. They can choose from study hall to tutoring to an activity period.
“The very concept of that is positive behavior oriented because they have to be academically eligible, their grades have to be up in order for them to participate in some of the more fun activities,” he said.
Respect is a big tenet of the high school’s message as well, Principal Joe Schlimm said. Faculty, he said, foster that respect by trying to think of and speak to students as individuals.
“They’re starting to become more independent, they’re starting to form their own views, have their own opinions of things. By the time they’re juniors and seniors, they can’t wait to get out and into society. So we try to use that to our advantage by making our communications personal,” he said.
As in middle school, high school students are also taught netiquette, he said, in order to leave a digital footprint that does not reflect inappropriate behavior.