AMS students tell Alva School Board about leadership program

Marteney discusses AMS' new focus on positive behavior


January 16, 2019

Norah Scarbrough

Alva Middle School Principal Stephanie Marteney told board of education members last Tuesday, Jan. 8, that she made preparations for this meeting after Christmas. "After I went to the professional development, I just scrapped everything and said, 'Well, starting over!'"

"We're really trying to focus on our environment. And that's something Dr. (Laura) Riffel talked to us a lot about."

Teachers are using PBIS (positive behavior intervention supports). "We're trying to figure out the best way we can establish a culture of inclusion and respect and to try to have the best interactions we can with our students and the community," said Marteney.

Teachers came up with a set of expectations for middle school students:

• Show Respect

• Show up Ready to Work

• Show Self Control

• Show Responsibility

This list was presented to the students. Teachers were assigned different areas, and they are making videos, starring the teachers, of what you should do and what you shouldn't do in certain areas. One was a bathroom video. Marteney said, "Mr. Wooten made a video, sang a song, about the way you should act in the bathroom."

She said another video focused on locker room behavior. She participated in one on exiting the classroom and walking the hallways.

In addition the teachers and staff are handing out green "show passes" in keeping with a show theme. These will be handed out to students when they are caught doing something good. "We want to reward those positive behaviors and are hoping that will transform our school," said Marteney.

Students put the passes in a hopper in the office. Every week, names will be drawn, and the winners will receive a positive reinforcement. "It's not going to be candy or gum. It's going to be a privilege or a freedom, some kind of opportunity or possibly an exemption," said Marteney. "We learned about this Thursday, Friday, and we turned around and started it Monday morning."

She said they are trying to address the students in a positive way instead of saying "don't do this, don't do that." She had a teacher come up to her and say, "Oh, my gosh, being so positive. That's really hard."

Goldbug Leadership

Marteney introduced teacher Tanya Phillips and two students to tell how the school is working on relationships not only in school but in the community.

Phillips said last spring she told Marteney she wanted to do more with the students, and they came up with a leadership class. Over the summer the Goldbug Leadership of Oklahoma took form. The program received a grant through Lead Oklahoma offered through the regents of higher education and Oklahoma Teacher Connection. Enrollment in the class started at 22 and is now up to 24.

"It's important to our students to be valued," she said, "but also to recognize how to value other people."

Phillips introduced student Norah Scarbrough who spoke about one of their programs, Little Buddies. They adopted a first grade classroom with whom they do activities and teach them about the true colors of Alva Middle School. "So far we've taught them about responsibility, caring and kindness," she said.

Another project was helping the school custodian by picking up trash from teachers rooms, wiping down desks and vacuuming. They also set up a work schedule for the AMS concession stand for basketball games and worked the gate. The class also set up and coordinated a dance with FCCLA.

Student Ethan Ruhl told how the leadership class helped Alex Mantz with the Alva Chamber to set up for the Halloween party on the square. "We set up tables and chairs and helped organize the groups for costumes," he said. During basketball games, they go around and pick up trash from the concessions. They decorated Christmas trees and plan to organize Valentines for Veterans, sending cards to veterans in Wichita.

Board member Karen Koehn asked, "What's the best part. What just makes you feel good?"

"Whenever we have group projects, everyone actually works together," said Scarbrough. "In other classes, sometimes people won't. But in this everyone works together."

Board member Shane Hansen asked if they've seen a positive effect on students who are not in the class. Scarbrough said they've set up a system for chairs in the lunchroom, and they've seen non-class members help to pick them up after lunch.


Superintendent Tim Argo went over the financial reports for the board. He noted the payroll showed an increase for December due to the stipends to teachers and staff. The school system is ordering cleaning supplies in bulk which resulted in a higher than usual expense in December when second semester supplies were ordered.

He said the activity fund accounts are all in good order. The science club is new this year with members taking their turn working the concession stand so they will need to be included in next year's fund distribution.

In the child nutrition fund report, Argo said more breakfasts and lunches are being served. However, ala carte sales are down. Staff is looking into the reason for that.

In general fund purchase orders, Argo noted $1,170.24 was spent on headphones for Chromebooks at Longfellow School. The school is setting up a new inventory system for $1,188 which will help track tech equipment the school systems owns, where it is located and who has checked it out. Another new program is a ticketing system for IT repairs to track repair requests and what is being done.

The school spent $16,000 for Apple Macbooks for Nick Bradt's high school debate teams. Argo explained that no wifi is available to the teams when they go to meets so they need to save all their research materials on a flash drive. The school's Chromebooks don't have that capacity. He praised the "fantastic job" Bradt does with the speech and debate program.

An item for $1,040 is registration for Duke TIP, a gifted and talented program, which students can then use on their own. Argo explained an ice machine purchase replaced one that was going to cost more to repair than buying a new one. The school spent $1,297 to replace tires on an activity bus.

A $1,000 expense was to bring Elaine Hutchinson, a former teacher of the year from Fairview, to speak to Alva teachers on Google Drive. She explained how to use sheets, slides and forms. Argo said the school received great feedback from the teachers about the presentation.

The school paid $3,000 for supplies plus another amount for books in the professional development program involving Dr. Laura Riffel. She helped the Pre-K through 8th grade teachers on behavior management plans, procedures, positive reinforcement, incentives and ways to motivate students.

Superintendent Report

In his report to the board, Supt. Argo talked about the ongoing strategic planning sessions. The first two phases were conducted over four days and was "a really good process," he said. Goals set for the district and the results of the survey are available to the public online on the school's website. The next phase will be on Jan. 28-29.

This is School Board Recognition Month. Argo handed out certificates to board members from the state school board association "for your time, your effort and your dedication to our students and to our community."

Other Business

Argo said a group of teachers and parents went over details of next year's school calendar. "I was very appreciative of the feedback they were able to give me." Three separate calendars were proposed then teachers and staff voted. One calendar led by a large margin, and that's the one approved by the board.

Board Chair Jane McDermott was absent so Tiffany Slater presided over the meeting. The board voted to approve the request for the lease of a bus to the First Baptist Church Jan. 19-21 to travel to Falls Creek at Davis, Oklahoma. The church will provide a licensed and certified bus driver, fuel and a certificate of insurance.

The meeting concluded with an executive session to conduct ongoing evaluation of the superintendent.


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