Superintendent Sandbox: Tobin Novasio

Tobin Novasio

Local superintendents submit a monthly column to the Yellowstone County News called Superintendent Sandbox.  Occasionally, his remarks and column are featured here on the Lockwood Community website. This article by Superintendent Novasio was published in the 9/1/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

As the new school year begins, I want to highlight a new program that we have had the opportunity to implement in our Primary School. In the middle of August, the vast majority of our teachers in grades kindergarten through third were here on campus learning about the PAX Good Behavior Game. Thanks to this dedication, Lockwood Schools now has one of the largest implementations of PAX in the state of Montana!

PAX is a system of research-based classroom strategies that aims to teach students self-management skills and increase productive teaching time. PAX gets its name from the Latin word for “peace” and is defined as “Peace, Productivity, Health and Happiness” in the program. This training builds upon the work we have already done; it will help teachers insure that they have a positive nurturing classroom environment and that their students can identify good behavior on their own. Students will have their positive behaviors recognized and positively reinforced on both a short and long term basis. They will also learn essential teamwork skills: cooperation, working together and setting goals. Mistakes are defined as temporary setbacks to be overcome rather than a major issue that can derail a student’s whole day. The ultimate goal of the program is to teach students pro-social lifetime skills, including self-regulation and social-emotional coping skills.

While a reduction in classroom distractions and more time on task for our students and teachers is a great benefit for all of us at the school, the real reason we brought the system in was due to the long term benefits for students. PAX GBG has been researched by Johns Hopkins Hospital and found to have a profound positive impact on children.

Some states and Canadian provinces have actually implemented the program as a public health policy initiative to prevent and treat childhood mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. We first became aware of PAX when it was among the top six recommendations from the Montana Suicide Mortality Review Team for reducing Montana’s suicide rates, which are often double the national average. We were then able to work with Dr. Claire Oakley from RiverStone Health to secure grant funding to bring in training for our staff and some neighboring schools.

Statistically speaking, because of the program, out of the 500 students that will be exposed to PAX at Lockwood Schools:

* 72 more will graduate from high school;

* 5 fewer will commit major violent crimes;

* 48 fewer will develop drug addictions;

* 33 fewer will attempt suicide.

Our goal is not just to improve your child’s education by utilizing the PAX techniques, but quite literally to save lives!

Now when your children come home from school and talk about “PAX,” “spleems,” “tootles,” “Wacky Prizes” or their teacher playing the harmonica in class, you will have an idea about what is going on, and we certainly hope it will have a positive impact on their lives long after they have moved on from Lockwood Schools with a great education and a strong social-emotional foundation.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to work with your children.

Go Lions!

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