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Students are SOARING at Towamensing Elementary School

  • LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Left to right, Shea, first grade, his dad Jason Finney and his mom, Stacey Finney, and Brianna Moore, first grade, participate in bowling at SOAR's Family Fun Night at Towamensing Elementary School.
    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Left to right, Shea, first grade, his dad Jason Finney and his mom, Stacey Finney, and Brianna Moore, first grade, participate in bowling at SOAR's Family Fun Night at Towamensing Elementary School.
Published May 26. 2011 05:01PM

It was a night for Parkside, SS Palmer and Towamensing students and their families to SOAR at Towamensing Elementary School with crafts, games, refreshments and fun.

Brianna Moore and Shea Finney, first graders, explained what SOAR stands for. They said the S is Safety first, O-Our responsibility, A-Always try your best and R-Respect yourself and others.

SOAR is a schoolwide positive behavior support program, designed to create a culture that emphasizes a sense of unity and pride within the schools and the community. It teaches and encourages positive behavior throughout the school, promoting self-respect, respect for others, academic success and pride of school and community.

At the beginning of each school year, a behavior chart is signed by students and parents, which outlines the behavioral expectations for each grade level students in classroom, hallway, bathroom, cafeteria and recess expectations.

During the first few days of school, students are taught what it means to SOAR in each school setting and then be provided with chances to practice these positive behaviors. The teachers and staff recognize those students and classes demonstrating positive behavior through positive reinforcement with an opportunity to earn SOAR tickets. These tickets can be given to a student by any staff member in the building. Students receive tickets on an individual basis or as part of a group. As students collect more tickets, they will have an opportunity to trade the tickets for small incentives (such as pencils, folders, etc.) or trade in tickets to participate in special activities (dance party, arts & crafts, etc.). The more often a child shows what it means to SOAR, the more chances he/she will have to earn tickets. In addition, the teachers in the building will be acknowledging those classes who are collectively demonstrating positive behavior by filling out a passport. At the end of the day, those classes who earned a

passport will be acknowledged on the announcements. Once a grade earns a certain number of passports, they earn a grade-wide activity.

If a child behaves in a way that is not positive and causes a disruption to the learning environment, his/her teacher completes a referral form and the principal chooses an authentic consequence appropriate for the student's grade level. An authentic consequence is chosen to match the inappropriate action. For example, if a student says something offensive to another student, he/she may be asked to write an apology letter. Additionally, the student will be asked to complete a behavior reflection that will need to be signed by the parent/guardian and returned. Depending on the severity of the behavior, students may also be given detention or receive in-school or out-of school suspension. The goal of the program is to have students accept responsibility for their actions at an early age and understand that there are natural consequences for behaviors that interrupt the learning of others

Research shows that one of the biggest contributors to a student's success is when parents and the school work together. A brief presentation about SOAR was held at Meet the Teacher Night. SOAR Family Nights are held throughout the year, where parents and children participate in an activity together.

Laura Moore, mother of Brianna said she thought the SOAR Family Night is a great idea and lots of fun.

Stacey Finney, mother of first grader Shea, said, "I work in the behavorial health field and I know how important it is to focus on good behavior. When children are taught "doing good", they're rewarded for that behavior. The more you reinforce good behavior, the better the child's overall behavior is. Shea is very proud of his good accomplishments."

Bryan Geist was there with his wife and children.

"This great to do this with the family and it's great to see the schools encouraging family cohesiveness," he said.

Mrs. Christine Steigerwalt, principal of Towamensing said it was the second Family Fun Night of combining all three Palmerton Area School District elementary schools.

"The goal of SOAR is to focus on positive behavior and tonight is to promote family involvement," she said.

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