Students at Merrill High School are learning this year that there can be positive consequences for good behavior, rather than just negative consequences for bad behavior. The school has introduced a new component to the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program that rewards students who are noticed doing the right thing.
“When a student does something nice or makes a good decision, a teacher can recognize that and give them a Blue Jay Bonus,” said MHS Dean of Students Tim Engh.
The students can put their Blue Jay Bonuses into a drawing for prizes. So far, MHS has four local business sponsors who provide prizes that are valuable to students. Current sponsors are Kwik Trip, Culver’s, Murphy’s Mini-Mart and the Haunted Sawmill. Along with the weekly prizes from sponsors, names are drawn every day for free cookies from the cafeteria.
In addition, an electronic bulletin board in the commons area recognizes students who have earned the bonuses. So far, almost 300 bonuses have been earned this year.
“Kids want to be recognized for doing the right thing,” Engh said.
That can be something as simple as helping a teacher or a fellow student.
“It’s all about the little things,” Engh said. “We want to see that if someone is in need, they step up and help.”
Developed by the University of Oregon, PBIS is a whole-school initiative meant to create a safer and more effective school by reinforcing positive behavior and addressing problem behavior. MHS has been using the program for four years, but this year brings a greater focus on rewarding positive behavior.
“We wanted to do more of the positive reinforcement this year, instead of just the negative stuff,” Engh said. “I think it’s making a difference. More kids want to be involved and it’s something that makes kids want to be here.”
The culture MHS is striving for is based on the “Three R’s”: Respectful, Responsible and Ready to Succeed. This year’s theme is integrity.
“All the students know what our expectations are,” Engh said. “Being a Blue Jay is about having integrity.”
MHS is always looking for more sponsors to provide rewards for the students. Anyone interested may call Engh at 715-536-4594 ext. 18007.