2 Hamilton schools win character program awards from state

Two Hamilton schools have been recognized for the first time with state honors for teaching personal character, which educators have called a point of increasing attention.

Fairwood and Highland elementary schools recently won the third-place award among Southwest Ohio schools for their character education or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs.

The regional awards from the Ohio Department of Education are earned after participating Ohio schools apply to the state describing their character programs and their impact on students.

“The district commends these two schools for being recognized for their passion and ongoing support of PBIS as this was rigorous and time-consuming application process that involved students, staff, and community,” said Joni Copas, spokeswoman for Hamilton Schools.

Only about 2 percent of Ohio’s thousands of schools have won awards, said Copas.

Ty Smallwood, principal of Highland, said “we place a great deal of emphasis on the social and emotional wellness of our students.”

“We believe in an educational experience that creates well-rounded future citizens. All of our staff has been trained in trauma-informed practices over the last three years, as well as the PBIS framework,” said Smallwood.

Highland’s character development program – called PRIDE for Personal Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Determination, and Empathy – has helped the Butler County school see “a significant reduction in the number of disciplinary incidents as a result of the hard work of our school community.”

Matt Crapo, principal of Fairwood Elementary, said his school has seen similar improvement in student behavior.

“At Fairwood as we took a giant leap forward by streamlining our processes and developing structures that allow students to be successful and the data speaks for itself as we had nearly a 40 percent reduction in the number of days students were placed out of school and a 52 percent drop in (discipline) referrals,” said Crapo.

“Our building report card increased in performance index, progress, and gap closing due to the consistent message and (character-instruction) put into place,” he said.

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