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peck place school teachers and students

Peck Students Practice ‘Pawsitive’ Behavior

By Melisa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent

When Peck Place students went back to school in September, they not only came back to a bright and newly renovated school, they came back to a new set of expectations. The staff began implementing a new program, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which will examine school climate and systems so that educators can best meet the social, behavioral, and academic needs of all children.

Curriculum Facilitator for the school, Susan Lukianov, said the process began with teachers calibrating the definitions for behaviors, so that expectations of students are clear and consistent across the school.

“Teachers also utilized a common referral form that is based on clearly defined behavioral outcomes (PAWS behaviors) for students. As these ‘behind the scenes’ components are introduced, students and staff share clearly defined expectations and goals. The data collected throughout is used to identify the ‘what, when, where and who’ for student behaviors. The data is then used to make modifications to systems, practices and supports,” she says.

As Fifth Grade Teacher Michelle Behun explains, “In education today, schools are required to carry out a multitude of initiatives. Between the academic rigor of the Common Core State Standards through math and literacy, new teacher evaluations and the National Smarter Balanced Testing, we have a lot to juggle. In addition to all of this, our students are faced with even more social and behavioral expectations. We needed a program to tie all of these things together.”

She says that although the program is used in many other schools, implementation and roll-out at Peck Place is unique: “Although the tenants of the program are the same, we’ve given PBIS our own personal touch.”

The purpose of PBIS is to encourage positive behavior from students in every capacity of their school environment. From the moment they step on the bus on the morning, throughout their academics, lunch and recess, until they arrive home in the afternoon, boys and girls are expected to act in an appropriate manner.

“It is our job as educators to model and acknowledge this behavior so that our students grow to be inspiring members of society. Science shows that boys and girls are not born with bad behavior, it is up to us to demonstrate the good behavior and encourage our students to follow our modeling. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We are taking what was already in place and tying it to one common goal: helping our students shine and be their best,” Behun says.

Kelley Stevens, a second grade teacher at Peck says the practiced behaviors are quickly becoming habitual and are benefitting teachers as well as students. “With improved behavior, the learning experience and the teaching experience become better. The teacher can now focus on the lessons at hand and the children become more focused and spend more time on task. And with all of that comes improved test scores and an all-around better learning experience,” Stevens says.

Jayne Whitman, a fifth grader at Peck Place, shares what ‘practicing kindness’ looks like: “Posters were hung around the school telling us what the appropriate behavior should look like. All of our teachers take time to remind us what these behaviors look like in different parts of our day – in our classroom, walking the halls to lunch.”

As first grader Sarah Higgins explains, “At Peck Place School, we are known as the Panthers, so we focus on our Panther PAWS: ‘P’ stands for practice kindness, ‘A’ for act responsibly, ‘W’ for work and play safely, and ‘S,’ we strive for success. Each and every day we show our teachers our best behavior in all areas.”

Students caught showing ‘pawsitive’ behavior can receive a Panther Pass as recognition.

Second grader Aidan Sor says, “The person who gives the pass tells us what they liked about our behavior. We take the ticket and place it in a box for our grade level. Students at Peck Place School can earn many tickets and everyone gives them out, including our bus drivers!’

Each week, Principal Eric Carbone shares an updated total of how many Panther Passes students have received. To date, over 7,000 passes have been given.

According to fourth grader James Schmitt, “We are working toward a school reward. When we reach 10,000 Panther Passes, the teachers at Peck are going to put on a karaoke concert where they will get on stage and show us their singing skills!”

In the meantime, each Friday, there is a drawing from the tickets and one student from each grade level is selected and their name is read over the morning announcements. That student is the Panther Pick of the Week.

As third grader Matthew McLeod explains, “They receive a certificate for their refrigerator at home, they get to pick from the Panther Treasure Chest and their name goes on a PAW print on a display in front of the school. The best part is, there’s no limit to the number of times you can win. The more you demonstrate pawsitive behavior, the better chance you have to win.”

Charlotte DelVecchio, a six grader, says, “All of the kids at Peck love getting rewards and recognition for good behavior. We are all looking forward to each day and what fun things are coming next.”

Bulletin Board

Al-Anon Parents Meeting, Monday nights, 7:30pm year-round, United Church of Christ, Plymouth Building, 18 West Main Street, Milford – supporting parents of alcoholics and/or substance abusers. For more information, go to or call Margaret at (203) 877-4313.

Al-Anon Meeting
, Monday mornings, 10:00 - 11:30am, Holy Infant Church Hall, 450 Racebrook Road, Orange; a support group for relatives and friends of alcoholics. For more information, contact

Nicotine Anonymous Meetings,
Mondays, 6:30 – 7:30pm, Trinity Lutheran Church, 21 Robert Treat Parkway, Milford, open to all, no dues or fees, only requirement is the desire to be free of nicotine. For more information, call Bridges, 203-878-6365.

Zumba Gold Classes At Congregation Or Shalom, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., Congregation Or Shalom, 205 Old Grassy Hill Road, simple and easy routines to follow, designed for people of all ages and no experience is needed. If interested, call Robin at 203.314.8176 or temple office at 203.799.2341.

Clean Energy Task Force of Orange, meets on the third Tuesday of every month at HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, conference room, 8 o'clock. The public is invited.

Orange Arts & Culture Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month, 7:30pm, HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, check chalk board for meeting room. The public is invited.

Orange Recycling Committee meets every 3rd Wednesday 7:30pm, HPCC conference room, 525 Orange Center Road, public is invited to attend. For more information, email Beginning August, meetings will be held every 3rd Tuesday at 7:00pm except for October which will be held on October 14, 2014.

Elm City Kennel Club General Meetings, third Wednesday of each month, except during July and August, 7:30pm, Paws’N Effect, 36 Corporate Ridge Drive (off Sherman Avenue), Hamden. For more information, contact New Member Coordinators Gary Wilson, at 203-996-2245 ( or Maureen Anderson, at 203-430-5229 ( Next meeting Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Refreshments will be served. Our April meeting will include a program on AKC Dog Shows 101.

Blood Pressure Clinic
presented by Gentiva & Maplewood of Orange, 1st Thursday of every month, Maplewood of Orange, 245 Indian River Road, 1:30-2:30pm in the Community Room. No appointment necessary.

The Rotary Club of Orange
meets every Friday, 12:15pm at the Racebrook Country Club, 246 Derby Avenue; prospective new members may contact Diane Eger at 203-530-4526 or visit for information about the club.

Orange Historical Society Academy Antique & Gift Shop Museum
, open Saturdays, 10:00am-3:00pm. For information call 203-795-3106.

New NAMI Support Group Meeting
, every first Monday of the month, meetings begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. and end promptly at 7:30pm, BRIDGES, a community support system, 949 Bridgeport Avenue, Milford, conference room on the second floor, meeting dates are November 3, and December 1, 2014. They are free of charge and facilitator led.

The Morning Book Discussion Group, Thursday, December 4, 2014, 10:30am, Ellen Aftamonow Woodmont Library, 16 Dixon Street, Milford. December’s book is “Care and Management of Lies,” by Jacqueline Winspear; January is “Invisible Wall,” by Harry Bernstein.
The group meets the first Thursday monthly. All are welcome. For more information, call 203-874-5675.

Christmas Fest
, Saturday, December 6, 2014, 9:00am-3:00pm, West Haven Congregational Church on the Green, Crafts, baked goods, lunch, Santa with photos from 10:30am until 1:00pm.