What Money Can Buy: Ottawa County – Hudsonville

In Hudsonville, it wasn’t difficult to rally MEA members to get out to vote in favor of the 2018 Ottawa regional enhancement millage. Everyone knew the money would be going to help address the biggest issue facing many schools across the state—student behavior and student mental health.

Ross Veldheer

Money from the millage hired counselors to reduce caseloads and behavior specialists to oversee a district-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system. “We’ve seen the results immediately,” said Hudsonville Education Association President Shelly Stokes.

Training on student trauma and classroom de-escalation techniques has given her tools for dealing with challenging student behaviors which have been on the increase, Stokes said, adding: “I feel inspired.”

Having new staff dedicated to designing and implementing a research-based PBIS system means that work doesn’t simply become another task for teachers to tackle alone. Instead, expectations for student behavior, along with rewards and consequences, become a team effort and evolve into a cultural norm.

Heather Stauffer

Newly hired specialists and MEA members Heather Stauffer and Ross Veldheer work with PBIS teams at every building. The two coordinate lessons and modeling of behavior expectations from the busses to hallways, playgrounds, classrooms, and cafeterias.

“There’s research behind it, there’s a lot of thought and time invested in making decisions, and the rollout has been really intentional,” Stauffer said.

“I’m excited because we’re in the buildings every single day, so it’s not this outside person coming in and maybe giving you some good strategies and then they’re gone,” Veldheer said. “We’re going to work with the teachers, build those relationships and be someone they can partner with.”

Every building also has a support plan for high-need students who may require individual help at times. “We’re building capacity by talking about trauma with the staff and by teaching those kids it’s OK to have big feelings and that we will have practices in place in the classroom so that teaching can continue to happen,” Stauffer said.

First-grade teacher Nicole Terpstra said she appreciates knowing someone is there who can help with a child who might need extra attention, and she appreciates having a common language that unites all school employees and students.

“Everyone understands because I’m using the same language as the PE teacher, the bus driver, and the fifth-grade teacher,” Terpstra said.

Uncategorized

Releated

Loving Head Cook, ‘Miss Dawn,’ Wins ESP of the Year: ‘This is home to me’

By Brenda Ortega MEA Voice Editor At Parma Elementary School in Jackson County’s Western School District, students coming through Miss Dawn’s cafeteria line enjoy a generous serving of love along with their chicken nuggets, buttered corn and apple slices. “The kids absolutely love her because they know she cares,” said Principal Sue Haney. “She jokes with […]

MEA Book Studies Tackle Timely Yet Difficult Topics: Racism, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

By Brenda Ortega MEA Voice Editor When Dawn Weaver facilitates trainings or discussions around race, she talks with educators about the importance of creating “windows and mirrors” in their classroom practice. “I’ve always tried to have representation—not just for African-American students but any marginalized individuals—and make sure that everybody in my class is seeing themselves and seeing […]