Persell School Highlights Good Behavior With Cammarata Cash

Persell Middle School Counselor John Sirianno recently visited seventh-grade homerooms with a special “store” full of school supplies, chances to win VIP lunches and other goodies. Seventh grader Antonio Williams bought a chance to be a participant in the “Minute to Win It” competition with some of his “Cammarata Cash” earned through Persell’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program, which began this year.

“I have received $134 in Cammarata Cash,” said Antonio. “I received it for talking at the appropriate times, doing my homework and being prepared for class. I bought a chance to be in the Minute to Win competition because it sounds like fun.”

Persell Middle School began its PBIS program this year. PBIS is an approach to creating and maintaining positive school climates where teachers can teach and students can learn. Persell staff participated in BOCES training on the best practices for PBIS last year to help implement the program at their school.

PBIS is evidence-based and emphasizes preventing school discipline problems. Each month, data is collected and analyzed to determine the top three behavioral issues the entire school wants to improve. For example, in January the goals were: being prepared for class, completing homework and talking only at appropriate times during class. Everyone watches for these positive behaviors and rewards students with “Cammarata Cash,” fake money that students can use to purchase tangible and intangible items. Every other month, the school holds a special assembly where students can “buy” an opportunity to participate in a fun activity.

“The students are very excited about the program and carry their Cammarata Cash around with them,” said Michela Tehan and Devyn Agett, Persell teachers and PBIS committee members. “What is really effective about this program is that it is a school-wide effort. Everyone is on the same page in terms of what we expect from student behavior as a school. So, if a student goes into any classroom, the cafeteria, the auditorium or school grounds, they know what is expected of them and the consequences if they do not behave appropriately.”

The goal of the PBIS program is to maximize academic engagement and achievement for all students by reducing disciplinary issues while increasing academic performance. This is done by the consistent use of positive teaching and reinforcement, using more engaging and preventive approaches to problem behaviors and improving supports for students whose behaviors may require more specialized assistance.

“I received cash for not talking in class and helping other kids out in ELA. Kids really think about their behavior when they know that the have the opportunity to earn Cammarata Cash and buy fun things,” said Calvin Ricker, Persell Middle School fifth grader.

Special thanks to the Persell PBIS Committee: John Sirianno, Leslie Melquist, Devyn Agett, Michela Tehan, Tim Whitacre, Tim Anderson, Dave Gee and Allyson Smith for all their hard work in setting up, and running, the program at Persell.