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"Oh, sure. Recognizing kids for being good is really going to work."
That would seem to be the universal reaction from every newcomer to the PBIS - "Positive Behavior Interventions and Strategies" Ð program as it rolls out across Forest Park.
Lou Cavallo, the District 91 superintendent, gets credit for introducing it into a school system rife with behavior issues and stuck in the old model of escalating consequences that turned a kid with a rotten attitude into a kid serving a suspension. The middle school, ground zero for bad behavior, has seen the impact and officials have the data to prove it.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian, who owns up to having been an imperfect child, was skeptical but willing to experiment to find out if the PBIS principles that work in a school setting might also take root at the library, the parks and, most recently, in the community at large. With a small grant from the county, Gillian has worked to expand PBIS village-wide and it seems to be working, now with local cops in on the affirmation action.
Last week at a meeting of the Chamber, Gillian put the arm on Forest Park business owners to provide local loot to be used as prizes for a police department summer program that will have officers handing out "tickets" to kids who are being safe, responsible and respectful.
At the recently disrupted Summer Fest we saw up close the impact of disaffected, disconnected teens, albeit mainly out of town teens. The point is the same though. Any sincere effort to demonstrate to kids that they are welcomed and included when they act their best is a worthy attempt for the community to embrace.
The Forest Park Review is in. We've got a couple of hundred bucks and we're looking for a partner to turn it into prizes since we don't think your average 10-year-old wants a free newspaper subscription. Who's next?