The Program set to reward positive behaviour in 2020: PBIS


Marcquez Haley (left) and Keenan Cameron (on right)! Credit: Marjorie Hsu

Marjorie Hsu, Co-editor in Chief


A new program called Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is in the works to kick off next year in Centennial. As the name suggests, the program is geared to reward positive behavior instead of using punishment to teach kids. And, “More than 1,200 Georgia schools and 27,000 nationwide have been trained in PBIS,” according to the Georgia Department of Education website. 

The PBIS Logo.

Two staff members in charge of implementing PBIS is assistant administrator Marcquez Haley, AVID teacher Keenan Cameron. Haley said that the program is not only geared to students, but also teachers “to create a culture and climate in a school that supports acknowledging the positive behavior.” 

Before executing the program, Haley said, “We have to go through the training process with a team about 12 teachers and administrators.” He added, “There’s actually a version that helps with bus discipline and situations, as well as even training parents on how to be more positive when they’re dealing with behavioral situations at home.”

When asked how PBIS intends to reward positive behavior, Haley said that they’re still figuring that out. “One of the pieces of feedback we have received from our behavior specialist for the NorthEast Learning Community is that PBIS in high school has to look different than what it looks like in elementary and middle school,” he said. This is because “the research is not showing as high of a success rate in high schools yet. One of the reasons why they believe that is because there’s not enough student voice. So, one of the things we’ve done is that we’ve created student focus groups,” he said. 

AVID teacher Keenan Cameron said that they’re getting multiple perspectives through several rounds of focus groups. The first one had 25 students who spent an hour discussing values. Cameron said, “It determines what our goals are for PBIS and what drives our program.” They were asked questions such as “What do you value in education? And, how do you value it?” For the second round, another group of students will discuss incentives and what motivates them to do well. Another session will be on consequences, and more. 

In other schools, Haley said one of the initial changes he saw was how “the vocabulary of the teachers and students” as “it changes the narrative from being  ‘I don’t do’ to ‘Hey, I really like how you did this,’” he added. 

PBIS also connects to others through student ambassadors. Haley described it as a student body from different grades who are “the voice of the students who meet with the teachers and administrators that are on the adult side of PBIS while still giving their voice because things do change over time,” he said. This way “they can continue to get feedback on ways they can change and improve the framework as it moves forwards,” he said. 

“The team that has been put into place is extremely enthusiastic about really changing the climate and vocabulary here at Centennial to make sure we remain a community and we grow,” Haley said.  He added that the team consists of people from all departments “and we made sure to hear from each department throughout the school to make sure that everything we do is able to impact their departments directly but also impact the school as a whole,” he added.

Some of the other people behind the scenes are geometry teacher Crystal Crawford, Centennial’s school psychologist, counselor Will Jones, a parent from the PTA, other administrators, and more.

Although Centennial has a good atmosphere, Cameron said, “Everyone seems to be nonchalant. It’s not that they’re mean and they have bad interactions; but, no interaction is not good.” However, he said he’s “excited for the change in the culture” as the goal is to become “pleasant and professional.”

Since PBIS is still in the works, Haley said, “It’s still new to the point where we still have to decide how PBIS looks like specifically for Centennial. The framework is open, and different schools do different things with it. Once we solidify what we want it to look like for the next year, there will definitely be opportunities for us to provide fliers, information, and callouts to parents just so they’re informed of PBIS.”