CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of West Virginia educators from schools all across the state are taking proactive approaches this summer to ensuring their schools provide safe and nurturing learning environments for students.
The educators are taking part in the Safe and Supportive Schools Program which is a cooperative effort between the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD) and the West Virginia Department of Education.
At four separate two day training sessions held throughout the summer in West Virginia, public schools that choose to participate will send a group, consisting of an administrator and staff, to review data from a school climate survey previously done at each school regarding their particular school’s culture.
Chief Operations Officer with the WVCPD Lorrie Smith said during each training session, each school group will work through that data to come up with a plan to change their school’s culture within the next school year.
“This is really an attempt to identify problems, make interventions to solve the problem before it escalates and to also reward good behaviors,” she said.
It’s about helping students who have difficulties or problems within the schools before it leads to actions that put the rest of the students in danger.
“Try to implement some positive behavior supports rather than what we can do to get them in trouble,” said Smith.
By promoting and reinforcing positive behaviors, the WVCPD believes participants work to reduce discipline issues at their schools.
Once the sessions are over, the school groups will go back to their respective schools and implement the plan they put together.
Smith said this is really going to take dedication and constant involvement from everyone at the schools, the staff, the parents and the students, in order for the plan to be implemented and for the school culture to be changed for the better.
“If they (the school staff) feel ownership to the plan, the students will feel ownership and it will make a big difference in the culture as far as trust and respect,” said Smith.
The first in the series of training sessions took place over the weekend at Capital High School in Charleston. The other sessions will take place at the Lakeview Conference Center in Morgantown on July 10-11, the Days Hotel in Flatwoods July 31 through August 1 and August 6-7 in Beckley at the Beckley/Raleigh County Convention Center.
This is the second year for the Safe and Supportive Schools Program and Smith said they plan to continue doing so each year as long as there are schools wanting to participate.