TCNES implements PAX GBG

By Kelsey Kimbler -

LEWISBURG — Tri-County North Elementary School recently partnered with the Preble County Mental Health & Recovery Board to bring the PAX Good Behavior Game Program (GBG) to the district. According to Elementary Principal Joe Finkbine, they are hoping to make a lasting impact on students and teach them to “self regulate.”

“There’s a lot of research for adults that have been able to self regulate to help them so they do not become addicted to drugs or alcohol,” he said. “In Preble County, the Mental Health & Recovery Board has supported us to implement PAX in the schools. We have a partner within the school two days a week who helps us implement PAX in the classrooms.”

Officials with the Preble County Mental Health & Recovery Board (PCMHRB) said in a statement, “[We] are excited about the short-term investment made in families in our community with the implementation of the PAX Good Behavior Game Program (GBG) in Tri-County North Schools. There is a three-year financial investment. Year one is $43,013 while years two and three are reduced at $30,223.

“Since 1999, PAX GBG has been used in thousands of classrooms, in 38 states, and in 29 counties in Ohio. This evidence-based program brags incredible outcomes that PCMHRB hopes to see mirrored in Tri-County North schools. If PAX GBG demonstrates great benefits at Tri County North, we would like to expand the program into our other county schools.

“Some acclaimed outcomes for PAX GBG with regard to student classroom performance are higher standardized test scores and reading levels than their peers as well as higher graduation and college entrance rates. A reduced need for Special Education Services was noted. Teachers using PAX GBG demonstrated higher efficacy in student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management, thereby reducing stress in the classroom.

“Improved mental health outcomes include remarkably fewer problematic behaviors, reduced risk for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, fewer symptoms of depression, fewer school-related injuries and symptoms of aggression, reduced rates of bullying, and decreased suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“Substance use prevention outcomes consist of decreased tobacco use and illicit drug including opioid abuse, reduced alcohol use, and less overall service use for drug abuse or psychiatric disorder.

“It is very important to PCMHRB to keep our focus on prevention efforts in schools and families. Prevention is key in minimizing emotional trauma resulting in a healthier community and ultimately costs less. Children, their families, teachers, and society all benefit for decades as a result of using PAX GBG making us excited to utilize this program in Preble County.”

Finkbine explained, the idea behind PAX Good Behavior Game Program is that they’re trying to get students to self regulate, where they can recognize their own behaviors, make an adjustment, and change that to a more positive behavior.

According to Finkbine, the research has shown that if students learn to “self regulate” now, they can take that skill into adulthood and are less likely to become addicted to harmful substances.

“They are able to regulate their own emotions when they are adults,” he said.

The partner within the school holds small lessons in the classroom and meets with the teachers and administrators to discuss the program and what they are seeing. She also collects “spleem” data, which PAX uses to recognize an “off task” behavior. For example, a student playing with their glasses and not paying attention to the teacher is considered a “spleem.”

She collects this “spleem” data at the beginning of the year, mid year, and at the end. If that student learns to “self regulate” they will – by the end of the year — know that playing with their glasses is a “spleem” and they should be paying attention to their teacher.

Tools utilized within PAX include:

•All teachers, aids, and bus drivers have a harmonica to get students’ attention. Once the harmonica is blown, silence is expected of the students within seconds.

•Cues and kernels are small strategies teachers utilize to help students with self regulation. Staff introduce cues and kernels along the way for 10 weeks and then they roll out the PAX Good Behavior Game.

•In December, Tri-County North Elementary will be rolling out the PAX Good Behavior Game, which will reward students for good behavior. Staff will set a vision for the students, whom are then rewarded for meeting the goal with “Granny’s Wacky Prize.” These prizes are simple things students get to do. For example, for meeting their goal and limiting their “spleems” students are able to drum role for 30 seconds, as one of the available prizes.

“Once they get that release of excitement, we work on bringing them down — that is working on that self regulation,” Finkbine said. “It is not really a separate game, it is students doing their work.”

•”Toodles”which teachers write and display when students or staff show “right behaviors.”

“Spleem” data will be available for district view in January and the public will then see the progress they have made as a school. For Finkbine, it is important for Tri-County North to teach students “life skills” and he believes the PAX program is doing just that.

“We’re giving students a lifelong tool. We try to do that with the education they’re getting, but this is a life skill we’re teaching students. We can give them a much greater chance of success at life and a [higher chance] of not being addicted to drugs or alcohol [later in life]. [If we can do this], we are doing a great service to the students and community as a whole,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we’re partnering with the Mental Health and Recovery Board — this is a preventative measure, rather than reactive.”

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH