Everett Elementary featured in video

(Reproduced with permission from the Bedford Gazette, May 6, 2009)

(Update: the site is now available online, go here to view the entire section on reducing problem behaviors in elementary schools or here to review the Everett-specific items on the site.)

By Jennifer Howard
Gazette Staff Writer

Everett Elementary is among four schools in the country to be selected as a model to be featured in a learning video that demonstrate effective strategies to reduce student misbehavior in schools. Filming and interviews began Tuesday in kindergarten and second grade classrooms and will continue through Wednesday.

The classroom footage will be used by the U.S. Department of Education to demonstrate how the Raising Healthy Children program and two other evidence-based youth prevention programs implemented at Everett work in a live school setting.

“It’s a very big honor for the school to be recognized,” said Marlene J. Darwin, Ph.D., senior research analyst for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.

Raising Healthy Children, developed by researchers at the Social Development Research Group (www.sdrg.org) at the University of Washington, began at Everett in June 2007 and the school has experienced a 62 percent decrease in discipline referrals since its implementation. In-school and out-of-school suspensions have also decreased at a dramatic rate.

“It reduces referrals to the office, because students don’t have a chance to get in
trouble,” said Principal Shawn Kovac. “We now have less and less students coming into my office.” He noted that the decrease in referrals is a “significant change,” which reflects the work throughout the district's three elementary schools in the past three years.

“We’re now able to spend more time planning curriculum and teaching
instead of handling discipline problems,” he said.

Everett ElementaryBedford County received a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) in 2006 to fund the Raising Healthy Children program and it has been introduced to elementary students throughout the county to promote positive youth development and academic success.

Lyn Skillington, executive director of Unified Family Services Systems, said the program is a “collaboration of best practices” in areas such as social and emotional learning, classroom management and instructional strategies. She said the county has received funding through PCCD to implement three programs in all county elementary and middle schools: Raising Healthy Children for all elementary students and teachers, The Incredible Years targeted at preschool and kindergarten, LifeSkills Training, directed to middle school students. All of the programs have been tested and proven effective to increase children's social skills and academic achievement and reduce negative behaviors.

Skillington said about 5,000 students throughout the county have been exposed to the three programs. Additionally, about 1,300 parents attended workshops that build on the in-school programs.

Teacher Laurie Krauss and her second-grade students were active participants during
filming Tuesday afternoon.

The focus of the lesson was tattling and students were read the book “Tattlin’
Madeline” by Carol Cummings to learn the difference between a tattletale and a

Students then participated in a learning activity in which they had to identify situations that were considered tattletaling versus reporting.

“The Raising Healthy Children program provides a platform for social development
and it provides skills, opportunity and recognition that research has shown is
needed. These are critical elements,” Krauss said. “The students bond with their peers and adults to establish positive social development so that they can become healthy adults.”

Skillington said there is a direct correlation between social and emotional skills and healthy adults. “It’s important to invest in these programs to bridge the achievement gap. There's a very strong return on investment.” she said.

For more information about the Doing What Works web site, visit: dww.ed.gov. Informtion and footage from Everett will go "live" on the website in late summer 2009.

(Minor editing with permission for clarification)

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