Not all education is academic.

While school districts focus attention on teaching students the fundamentals of reading, writing and math, the behavioral lessons being taught are another critical part of developing a well-rounded student who is prepared for the world waiting for them after graduation.

For a number of years students at Reede Gray Elementary School have been taking part in a program known as positive behavioral intervention systems (PBIS), and through this part of their education they are learning the importance of being responsible, respectful and safe.

Students know it as the Cardinal Code, and what it offers is a change in the approach of addressing behavior issues by rewarding positive outcomes – rather than handing down punishments – and re-teaching those important social and behavioral actions on a regular basis striving to make them second nature.

Paul van der Hagen, Reede Gray Elementary School principal, said the Cardinal Code was initiated several years before he took over the administrative role, but as he has learned how the local program works he has become more and more convinced of its effectiveness in the lives of the students who are in school.

At Reede Gray, data has been collected over the years to measure the success of the program, and van der Hagen said that data has shown a dramatic decrease in the number of behavior interventions that need to be conducted at the school.

“The numbers are decreasing,” he said, adding, however, there are always going to be times when students will need reminders. 

Yes, there are going to be issues with some students, and when those concerns arise there are protocols in place to ensure those students don’t fall through the cracks.

With incentives in place, students continue to strive to follow the Cardinal Code, and the interventions that are in place are providing the help students need.

A similar program has been initiated more recently at Redwood Valley Middle School, and Bobby Elwell, Red-wood Valley Middle School principal, is working to help with the implementation of that program.

“It is still a work in progress,” said Elwell as he explained what the middle school is doing during a discussion with members of the school board.

Elwell said when fifth graders start at RVMS the goal is to have a smooth transition in place that builds on what those students have been putting into practice at Reede Gray.

Enhancing the rewards and incentives offered to students is one of the major areas of focus, said Elwell, adding another is creating an environment where all of the adults are being consistent in terms of addressing any behavior concerns.

Communicating the expectations on a regular basis is what Elwell believes will lead to the desired outcomes at the middle school.

At Redwood Valley High School, the efforts being implemented focus on helping students find reasons to come to school and to focus on achievement.

According to Rick Jorgenson, RVHS principal, the attendance incentives and targeted intervention programs that have been established are working, as the number of tardies, absences and failing grades are all on the decline and celebrating those successes rather than just punishing the behaviors is really making an impact.