PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - The Watson Chapel School District has a new sense of respect and eagerness to learn. It’s all because of a new initiative in effect this school year.
In 1970, it was determined that black and minority students were disciplined more than others at Watson Chapel schools. When the Department of Justice checked in in 2015, they said it was still a problem which is when they came up with an agreement to incorporate a new program, PBIS or Positive Behavior Intervention and Support.
From the elementary students to the high school seniors, the new energy is felt across the district and into the classrooms.
"I feel as if it was well needed to be at this school," said 12th grader, Ceanna Blunt.
The program is all about relationships.
"We’re not quick to suspend kids out of school now," said Superintendent Connie Hathorn. "We’re not quick to put kids out of the classroom now."
A survey revealed that students didn’t think their teachers knew who they were outside of school.
"They didn’t have that relationship piece so that was something we knew we needed to fix," said School Improvement Specialist, Kerri Williams.
It also revealed there were four key values the students need to work on; respect, organization, attentiveness and responsibility. Those four values is how the school came up with R.O.A.R.
"They have to be taught how to respect, they have to be taught these things," said Williams.
Instead of going straight to discipline, teachers have a protocol to follow which includes asking more questions.
"I believe wholeheartedly in teaching students how to take ownership of their behavior; learning how to say ‘I’m sorry,’ asking for forgiveness and allowing them to know when they are ready to return in the environment," said School Culture and Climate Specialist, Dovie Burl.
“Once we graduate, us seniors, the whole respect, organize, responsible, it will help us get jobs," said 12th grader, Chandler Tate.
School leaders expect disciplinary actions, including suspensions, to decrease.
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