Wilson Elementary sees dramatic drop in discipline referrals
Posted Mar 22, 2021 5:55 AM
By CRISTINA JANNEY
On Wednesdays at Wilson Elementary School, students don't dread being called to the office.
They know they may be a part of WOW Wednesdays, a positive office referral program at the school.
WOW stands for Way of the Warrior, a reference to the Wilson mascot. The students learn the Way of the Warrior is to be kind, in control respectful and responsible.
The students are recommended for a positive calls home by their teachers, and on Wednesdays lucky students' names are pulled out of a fish bowl.
The principal makes positive calls home, and the students get to take home T-shirts donated by Fort Hays State University.
Janelle VanKooten's son, Paxon, was part of the WOW Wednesday program last year when he was a fifth grader at Wilson.
"It is always a little unnerving to get a phone call from the principal if you are not sure why they are calling," Janelle said.
"I think it is a great opportunity to open up the conversation with your kids and talk about positive things that happen during their day at school when you wouldn't otherwise know some of those things that happen," she said.
Paxon's mother said Paxon didn't say much about his call to the office, but Janelle said his smile said it all.
"You could tell he was proud," she said.
"Anytime a kid can be recognized for positive behavior, it benefits the kid recognized and the other students seeing you can be recognized for positive behavior..." Janelle said.
The WOW Wednesday, combined with multiple other strategies, have helped Wilson to dramatically reduce the number of disciplinary office referrals.
In 2018-19, Wilson had 265 disciplinary office referrals. In 2019-20, up to the COVID shutdown, the school had 88 disciplinary office referrals — a 66-percent reduction. To date this school year, the school has had only 50 disciplinary office referrals, which is an additional 34-percent reduction.
"That is the direct result of a whole lot of hard work on our teachers' part and a willingness to build relationships with students and preserve relationships with students," Principal Anita Scheve recently told the USD 489 school board. "[We want] to help them figure out what is going on and make it better and to treat behavior as something we can teach just like academics."
Positivity and social and emotional growth is not just a focus of WOW Wednesdays. It has been a core focus of the school. The school, as do all the schools in the district use the CHAMPS model, which seeks to create clear behavior expectations.
The school has tried to incorporate trauma-informed practices for the students. Scheve said this has included a Mindful Monday, which helps students learn to positively deal with stress.
Scheve said she thought the school is reaping the benefits of social/emotional practices that were implemented several years ago.
The school now has students who have been exposed to positive behavior reinforcement and trauma-informed practices their entire elementary school experience, she said.