Moffat County elementary schools: Encouraging positive behavior |

Moffat County elementary schools: Encouraging positive behavior

Lauren Blair
Mary Valera and Allyson Galindo stack cups in the gym at Sunset Elementary School during the all-school celebration for earning 2,000 PAWS tickets. Students could choose from activities like karaoke, cup-stacking and recess during the hour of choice-time.
Lauren Blair

Gone are the days of rappings on the knuckles or writing things 100 times on the chalkboard. In our modern day, teachers have discovered that rewarding good behavior is more effective than simply punishing bad behavior.

Moffat County School District’s elementary schools have created a simple way to encourage kids to be their better selves through the PAWS program, which stands for practice respect, act with kindness, work together and stay safe.

Used throughout all four schools, the program is part of a nationally researched system for encouraging positive behavior in schools.

“It’s helping promote and prevent behavior issues and to create universal systems across the whole building, so teachers are using similar ways of rewarding and disciplining behavior,” said East Elementary School principal Sarah Hepworth.

The program rewards students with a paper ticket whenever teachers or school staff observe them following the rules, such as helping a peer. At East Elementary, the tickets are pooled and one is drawn at a PAWS assembly each Friday to recognize one student from each grade level for their good behavior.

The tickets also add up to classroom totals, which earn kids certain prizes once they reach 100 tickets, and on a school-wide level.

At Sunset Elementary School, students recently earned themselves a play hour by earning a total of 2,000 tickets throughout the school. The kids could roam freely between activities such as karaoke, cup-stacking and playtime on the playground.

“It’s actually really helpful, it’s fun,” said fifth-grader Lauryn Jones during the play hour. “I think it shows responsibility and respect… like if some kid is getting bullied and you say, please stop, he’s my friend.”

The program is especially profound for kids who tend to struggle more with behavior issues.

“For all the students, especially special education, when they receive one, it’s a really big deal,” said Sunset Elementary special education teacher Janalee Adams.

Hepworth found similar results with her students.

“We have to be mindful and really watch for those kids… (and) really reinforce positive behaviors with those kids,” Hepworth said. “Those are the kids that really make a switch after a while.”

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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