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SR Elementary program promotes positive behavior

Carisa Takac, Slippery Rock Area Elementary School guidance counselor, brings therapy dog Cash to a classroom of third-grade students. Cash is part of a positive behavior reinforcement program at the school. Submitted Photo

Using books and barks, Slippery Rock Area Elementary School is reinforcing positive behavior among students this school year.

Kristen Czubiak, school principal, said a new book-vending machine and a furry friend have promoted a Bully-free, Academic, Responsible and Kind — or B.A.R.K. — atmosphere within its walls.

“(The program) supports students making a positive environment where everyone wants to come to school,” Czubiak said.

The school created the “We B.A.R.K. for Books” initiative at the beginning of the school year, awarding students BARK dollars for positive behavior and academic integrity. Every two weeks, names are drawn and students can pick a book from the book vending machine, Czubiak said.

“We’ve given out 100 books so far, and our PTCC (Parents and Teachers Cooperating for Children) has committed to donating 1,000 books this year,” she said.

Elyse Stonebraker, a fourth-grade student at Slippery Rock Area Elementary School, celebrates receiving a book from the new book vending machine, part of a positive behavior reinforcement program at the school. Submitted Photo

Another positive presence around the school has been Cash, a 1-year-old therapy dog who visits Mondays and Fridays.

According to Czubiak, Cash has been brought into the classroom for lessons on self-control, friendship and responsibility, as well as one-on-one meetings for students who need it.

“He participates in a variety of things, including regular classroom lessons,” she said. “If we have students who have a bad day and they see Cash, it’s easier for them to come into school. He’s been welcomed and utilized.”

On the horizon, Czubiak said, is fundraising for a climbing wall to be installed in the school gym. She hopes it will be used by all students and add to the positive behavior reinforcement plan.

“It’ll be 20 to 40 feet, depending on how much we raise. We’re looking to install it at the end of the year. It would be utilized by all students,” she said.

The school anticipates a January glow-in-the-dark run to raise the majority of the funds for the wall.

“I have a goal in mind of $1,500. It costs $2,000 for the company to come set it up,” she said.

Czubiak said she’s excited for what the administration and students will do to advance their success.

“The students are working hard to show these qualities. It’s very motivating, for them and the teachers too,” she said.

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