News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 6, 2017
Behavioral plan rolled out at DI-S schools

by Monique Labbe

The Deer Isle-Stonington Schools are rolling out a new behavioral plan as part of its redesigned code of conduct processes, according to administrators during a meeting of the CSD 13 board on September 5.

The new plan is based on Dr. Ross Greene’s Collaborative Proactive Solutions, a behavioral strategy designed to incorporate challenging students into their own problem-solving plan in collaboration with teachers, administrators, staff and parents. Ideally, the student, by working through the issue rather than just being punished for it, will learn to identify their triggers and cope with the problem before it escalates to a disruptive level.

At the high school, a new room, identified as the planning room, has been put in place to serve as a safe space for students who have escalated in the classroom and have been removed from the situation. In that room, a staff member trained in the new strategy will work with the student to identify what happened, what triggered the outburst and what sorts of coping skills the students can use if the situation happens again.

“It really puts the student at the front of their own plan,” said Head of Schools Lynne Witham. “The teachers and staff will help them talk through what happened in that moment, but we really want the student to identify what the problem was. The more they’re able to do that, the more they’ll be able to recognize when they feel they’re going to escalate, and ideally be able to stop it before it gets to a disruptive point.”

The elementary school has also implemented a room for students who need to be removed from the classroom setting; however, they have also taken a more direct approach in hiring a special education person to keep a case load of certain students on the radar.

That individual currently has seven students with plans specifically designed for behavioral management. Principal Tara McKechnie and Witham are the first line of defense for students who may have behavior issues but are not part of that case load.

“We have someone who we hired specifically to identify those seven students and the teachers will be able to call her to their classroom if one of those students is being disruptive,” said McKechnie. “If the student can quietly be deescalated in the classroom, great, if not they will be removed. The goal is to have the student in the classroom as much as possible.”

Currently, a key team of administrators and those whose role is primarily to deal with student behavioral difficulties have received training, but the goal is to have each teacher and staff member trained in the process by the end of the school year. Those already receiving training, as well as a handful of other staff members, plan to attend additional training in Portland next month, where they will hear from Greene himself.

“I think this is an excellent direction to go in,” said board member Loring Kydd. “I think the kids will benefit from this not only in school, but outside of school and in their home lives as well.”