Teachers, staff and administration at Elitha Donner Elementary School in the Elk Grove Unified School District diligently provide a positive and safe learning environment for their students to grow socially and emotionally that also improves academics.
The young scholars at Donner Elementary School are often encouraged to “Catch the Donner WAVE,” meaning to be Wise, Accountable, Vigilant and Empathetic. As a part of that WAVE, the school has implemented a series of positive behavior interventions and support (PBIS) strategies that are incorporated into creating a culture that develops the students as Donner Dolphins from the time they enter the school. Donner was named a Silver Medal School for PBIS two successive years by the CAL PBIS Coalition, and will soon become a platinum school for their incredible efforts in PBIS.
These accolades are only awarded when PBIS radiates through a campus—from how the students behave to how the campus looks. Students were interviewed by CAL PBIS Coalition members to ensure that they understood what PBIS is and how they can follow the Donner WAVE. The PBIS implemented at Donner is centered around schoolwide positive behavior combined with Responsive Classroom, a research based teaching approach. This type of teaching lends to the purpose of PBIS in that it focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional health and learning.
Teachers at Donner Elementary have also been through trauma informed care training, which teaches them to look at the social-emotional ability and levels of students that have been through trauma and how they respond to it. Every classroom has a cool down kit where students experiencing behavior issues can enter a positive time out area to gather themselves, but still be able to participate in the lesson as the teacher continues on. If disruption continues, that student can go to the wellness room, which is a larger version of the cooldown kit manned by staff member. This room includes everything from a sand area, reading, manipulative activities and flexible seating. These types of PBIS strategies have helped Donner create the positive atmosphere for social-emotional growth and learning that it is today.
Many students have a lot going on in their lives, even at a young age. The excellent implementation of PBIS at Donner has seen academic test scores improve and suspensions go down almost to zero. The idea of PBIS is to provide a safe place so students don’t have to resort to anger or physical behaviors to feel heard. The strategies nurtured by PBIS aim to catch negative behaviors and mindsets before they have a lasting impact on the student’s life. Donner Elementary School is a shining example of creating responsibility in social-emotional learning for every student who chooses to Catch the Donner WAVE.