Rita Bezdicek, Spring Valley Kiwanis president, accepts a donation to the Salvation Army kettle fund drive from Chris Priebe, Kingsland Elementary School principal.  The students collected $597 in just five days by bringing in coins that are used to vote for the best-decorated classroom door.  The Kiwanis organizes the kettle drive each winter and will add the money to the Salvation Army collection. This is one example of the benefits of the PBIS program at Kingsland, where students learn positive behavior, which encourages them to reach out to the community and give to those in need.  SUBMITTED
Rita Bezdicek, Spring Valley Kiwanis president, accepts a donation to the Salvation Army kettle fund drive from Chris Priebe, Kingsland Elementary School principal. The students collected $597 in just five days by bringing in coins that are used to vote for the best-decorated classroom door. The Kiwanis organizes the kettle drive each winter and will add the money to the Salvation Army collection. This is one example of the benefits of the PBIS program at Kingsland, where students learn positive behavior, which encourages them to reach out to the community and give to those in need. SUBMITTED
If you hear the acronym "KHFOOTY" at Kingsland Elementary School, that's a positive thing.

"The students get tickets for getting caught being good, like 'Keeping Hands, Feet and Other Objects To Yourself, or KHFOOTY," explained Kingsland Elementary Principal Chris Priebe. That is one of the tenets of the school's Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS), an initiative to encourage students and staff to recognize the good things they do each day to make attending Kingsland a great experience.

"We're currently working not just to improve student behavior, but to improve the building climate, to show students how much we enjoy being in the building and hope they will, too," said Priebe.

Priebe and Title I instructor Jennifer Campbell are just two of the members of one of the district's PBIS team. There's a team installed at each of Kingsland's three school buildings, one at the elementary, another at the middle school, and a team for the high school as well.

The teams have a common mission - to help students learn how to behave, but not through disciplinary action or words that include "stop" or "don't." Instead, they're striving to notice when students are behaving well, such as when they're keeping their hands, feet and other objects to themselves, helping others, and essentially, "being respectful, responsible and ready, everywhere, all the time." For their good behavior, they are given reward tickets specific to riding on the bus, for general school areas, and for when they have a substitute teacher.

Elementary behavior expectations are posted throughout the school, and teachers and administration are addressing them in the classrooms, hallways, the cafeteria, library, recess, gymnasium, assemblies, and in the use of technology, as well as encouraging students to be considerate of one another at bus stops, on the bus and in the school bathrooms.

So far, five units of PBIS have been addressed. Classroom expectations include participating positively and using kind words, listening politely, waiting your turn to speak, KHFOOTYing, following directions, completing your work, making good choices, having materials ready, doing your best work and putting materials in their proper place.

At the bus stop and on the bus, students are expected to stay seated, face forward, use quiet and kind voices and words, KHFOOTY, follow directions, make good choices, be on time, and find seats quickly.

In the cafeteria, it's best to use quiet voices in line and at the table, use good table manners and polite words, follow directions, clean up after themselves, making good choices, reporting problems to adults, being prepared with lunch choices and washing hands with soap and water before entering the lunch line.

At recess, students should share equipment, take turns and play cooperatively, include others, KHFOOTY, follow directions, use equipment as instructed, make safe choices, line up promptly when asked and stay in the assigned area.

Students whose names are placed in tall silver tubes marked with grade numbers are then invited to attend assemblies during which they receive awards, either material or experiential, such as picking a prize or getting to have lunch with a favorite teacher. Staff members have their own reward tube as well, creating opportunities for culture change among the teachers, which, in turn, benefits the students.

Priebe and Campbell noted that they're "trying to recognize kids and staff getting caught being good...we still teach the kids boundaries, and we're trying to make sure the incentive is always there to be good...we also want the staff to know that we want them to have fun while they're doing their jobs."

Priebe's mane has taken a shave and haircut several times in the past school year because students at the middle school were allowed to give him a new 'do' as a reward, and elementary students have gotten to be part of prize drawings for items such as Kingsland's new KnightWear clothing.

"It helps them to have Knight pride...we're getting away from 'don't' and recognizing when they model good behavior. We're very purposeful and driven to make Kingsland the best, to make sure we have a balanced approach," said the principal. "It's not just how we deliver instruction, but we're making sure that students develop emotionally and socially, and part of that is caring about others, even beyond the school, in the community."

That means that monthly community service projects like the "Give Thanks, Give Back" food drive held before Thanksgiving and the recent elementary fundraiser for the Spring Valley Kiwanis to donate to Fillmore County's service extension of The Salvation Army are incorporated to teach students to reach out, to have empathy, to be active members of their communities. In the process, they raised $597 for the Salvation Army and garnered more than 1,100 pounds of food for the Spring Valley Area Food Shelf. The Army fundraiser resulted from students bringing their spare change in - change that they were encouraged to earn, not just find under the couch - and place in jars with pictures of wackily-dressed teachers on the front in order to vote for their favorite teacher that day.

"We didn't realize how much there was until the day of the Christmas concert, when we put bins by the classroom doors and the parents were invited to visit the classrooms," said Priebe. "In Mrs. (Denise) Erichsen's room alone, there was $43 in dollar bills."

That proves to Kingsland students that they can indeed KHFOOTY and make a difference at the same time - which is very rewarding for them and for the staff.

"We have wonderful jobs. We get to work with kids every day, and we're pretty fortunate for that," said Priebe. "It's not just the PBIS teams, but it's a whole-staff effort...they've embraced it and been more intentional with holding events each month to able to help the students be rewarded for their good behavior and giving back to the community."