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West Middleton Elementary School

Grade Level
Elementary School

WEST MIDDLETON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S PBIS implementation story is one of empowerment: empowering the students to believe in themselves and empowering the staff to build their skills to support students and do whatever they can to reach families. These changes led to improvements for West Middleton’s students. In particular, students with IEPs have seen growth on the Forward Exam in mathematics.

Former Principal Katrina Krych emphasizes the importance of positive school culture. The leadership team led the work of defining, developing, and embracing the school culture. The identity of the culture is not just for the students, but also for the adults in the building, Krych said. This cultural shift had staff “looking at kids through compassionate eyes, restorative eyes,” she added. Staff began to ask, “How can we build OUR skills?”

By the time Jennifer Reynolds, special education coordinator, joined West Middleton’s staff three years ago, the culture difference was conspicuous. “It was clear. Every student that walks through our halls belongs to every adult that walks through our halls.”

This mindshift was supported by intentional professional learning. The school invested in training to build collaboration between special education and general education staff to address inequities and build inclusive environments. Math and reading interventionists, ESL teachers, and special education teachers all provide support to teachers and students within the classroom environment when possible. This co-responsibility mindset helps all students, Krych said.

The staff also challenged themselves to strengthen the partnership between families and their school. They set a goal to meet with 100% of their families for conferences around their children’s education. Through persistence and using multiple approaches, the school was able to meet that goal. School social worker Emily Stockbridge described how West Middleton committed to putting families first; sometimes this meant that the school needed to adjust their practices. “The way we respond to families now has changed,” Stockbridge said. “It builds trust for families sending their kids to school.”

The leadership team recognized the value of systemic, sustained implementation to support change and the importance of making decisions based on data. The use of evidence-based interventions and a clearly defined structure and data for identifying student need helps ensure equitable access to supports. Along with the support in mathematics, staff worked on systemic implementation of PBIS and embedding the guiding principles into everything they do.

“Parents have their child’s best interest at heart and we believe that,” Krych said. “The focus becomes ‘How can we work together so your kid can be the best version of themselves?’”