Principals Urge Pocahontas BOE To Give Respect & Protect Another Chance
Marlinton, WV – At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting in early August, some board members expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Respect & Protect program in county schools. At the Board meeting Monday night, Pocahontas county school Principals defended the use of the program. Marlinton Middle School Principal Joe Riley summed up the position of the Principals.
“You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water” says Riley “because the fact that there are some issues with Respect & Protect. In fact the things that you all hear as board members, we hear first as Principals; and we know there are issues with it, but it’s issues that can be corrected.”
That was a common theme among the four Principals who spoke in favor of the program – that it needs to be tweaked, not done away with. Green Bank Elementary Middle School Principal Ruth Bland describes how she looks at the program.
“It is not a program to nab kids, but it is a program to establish patterns, understand the patterns of behavior that the children have, and then to put therapeutic interventions in place using many different resources within the community” she says.
Bland says she stresses to parents that it’s not the end of the world if a child gets a Behavior Intervention Form or BIF. She says it only identifies a classroom behavior that she hopes parents will help correct.
Marlinton Middle School teacher Chris Campbell says they did a survey of 7th graders this past spring to get their input on the success of the program. She says their expectations of rewards for good behavior are very pragmatic.
“Talking about the rewards, the things that they asked for were not monetary rewards” says Campbell. “They wanted more social time, they wanted time to play; let us listen to our IPODs for 10 minutes at the end of lunch’. They weren’t asking for a big trip or prizes or anything like that; the biggest thing they said was pizza and a movie or to make their own Sundae at recess, so they’re not expecting much for their [good] behavior.”
Campbell says they’re taking other steps to improve the learning climate such as focusing on positive behavior, creating Respect & Protect school cheers, clubs, and looking to the eighth graders as role models for the younger grades. Campbell says outside mentors, a more functional In School Suspension program, and more involvement from parents with the Local School Improvement Council will all help in making the Respect & Protect program a success.
Pocahontas County HS Principal Tom Sanders admits that some reassessment and retraining of staff is probably needed. However, he still sees the program as successful. He notes the number of students placed in alternative education due to serious school infractions is very low. In fact when those numbers were reported to the state, he says they were skeptical.
“This year when I filled it out and sent it in, they had somebody new” says Sanders. “She literally called me up and said we want the whole county’s results. I said ma’am I gave you the whole counties results, and she couldn’t believe that we didn’t have any more students that what we put in alternative ed.”
Sanders says he credits those low alternative education numbers in large part to the Respect & Protect program. For now, it appears that the Respect & Protect has won a reprieve from the Board of Education.