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Program emphasizes good acts
Standing in the Glynn Middle School cafeteria, Assistant Principal James McCarter handed out bag after bag of freshly popped popcorn to students.

The more students in the line, the bigger he smiled.

It was a sign of the success of the school's Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program, better known as PBIS.

The program, now in its second year at Glynn Middle, has been working to change the disciplinary methods in Glynn County schools by putting a greater focus on the reinforcement of positive behavior.

At Glynn Middle, each student has a Roll Card, a small card that they try to fill up by getting caught doing positive actions by an adult, such as holding doors open for others, picking up trash and more.

Once their card is full, they can turn it in on Redeem Days in exchange for a prize, like McCarter's delicious popcorn.

"Before this program started, we were spending a lot of time dealing with our students that were acting out and this program reverses that," McCarter said. "We found that only about 10 percent of our kids were getting discipline referrals, thus about 90 percent were never being called to my office. This program allows us to focus on those kids as well with positive reinforcement."

McCarter says the school has seen a significant decrease in the number of discipline referrals since the program's inception, by as much as 10 percent.

The excited chatter in the growing line of students to redeem their Roll Card demonstrates their enthusiasm to be responsible.

Diaudre Wilcox, an eigth-grader, says he's now dedicated to doing his best all the time,

"I'm always trying to do my best with my work and stay out of trouble, just doing what I'm told at all times," he said. "All my friends are acting better because of it, too, and I like that we get to do this."

The students can earn a variety of perks on Redeem Days, not just popcorn. Some teachers offer movies days and homework passes and area businesses have donated many items for the kids.

Glynn Middle Principal Matthew Blackstone says the more input from the community, the better the school is able to accommodate the children.

"We feel like if people knew the community was so involved, more would help donate to the schools, even those outside our community, so that the schools could continue to give back to the students. It's all for the right reasons," he said.

Blackstone sees the students who have stayed out of trouble in the past working with those who hadn't to strive to make the school a more positive place.

"The biggest benefit we see is that we're getting to reward kids for doing something positive. In the past, if you were doing what was expected of you, you didn't earn anything," he said.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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