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SCSD hosts Commissioner Elia & others to discuss mental, emotional & behavioral pilot program
Posted on 01/11/2018
Commissioner Elia at Paige School on January 10 2018

MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, along with other New York State Education Department leaders, met with administrators from three school districts at Paige Elementary School Wednesday afternoon to highlight the work that is underway implementing a pilot program aimed at improving student outcomes.

The three districts in attendance, Schenectady, Syracuse and Hudson Falls, are piloting the PAX Good Behavior Game in their schools.  PAX is an evidence-based program that promotes mental, emotional and behavioral health by teaching students how to self-regulate, self-control and self-manage.  The game teaches students to “flip on” their internal focus switch, which is required for learning, to work toward valued goals and to learn how to cooperate with each other in order to reach those goals.  The game also protects students against lifetime mental, emotional, behavioral and related physical illness for their futures and addresses bullying and key risk factors associated with substance abuse. 

Prevention providers from the Council for Prevention, Contact Community Services and New Choice, who work with implementation classrooms by providing coaching and support, were also on hand Wednesday.

Elia, who along with Arlene Gonzlez-Sanchez, Commissioner of NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASA) and Laura Ficarra, the Pilot Program Coordinator, facilitated a discussion about implementation of the program, year one outcomes, the importance of networking and next steps.

Five students who attend Paige Elementary School spoke to the group about the positive impact that PAX has had on each of them.  

Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring and Paige Principal Deborah MacDerment led Elia and others on a gallery walk and visit to Ruth Grisham's first grade class at Paige to see the PAX Good Behavior Game in action.

All three school districts are experiencing positive outcomes following implementation.  Schenectady is currently in Pilot Program Year 2 with implementation underway in five district schools including Paige, Zoller, Hamilton, King and Pleasant Valley elementary schools.  Twenty-five classrooms are sustaining implementation and 23 are new to the program.  From September through December of this school year, the number of unwanted behaviors, called “spleems,” were reduced in all five schools. 

The leaders from Hudson Falls reported, among other things, that teachers are noticing a difference in their students’ behavior and interactions on a daily basis. 

Syracuse which is implementing PAX in eight schools and 102 classrooms pointed out that by increasing PAX time translates to increased learning time for students.

Representatives from all three districts noted that with PAX, everyone is speaking the same language and community building is taking place within each of the schools.

PAX not only addresses five important federal initiatives and mandates, but, it also addresses health and safety requirements including tobacco prevention, school reform, character education, school safety and discipline plans, resiliency initiatives and mental health services.

Representatives from each of the schools reflected on the partnerships and the success of the program to date.  All noted at one point or another, that when PAX is used, more time is gained for high-quality teaching and learning.

Culinary students from Schenectady High School’s Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy served lunch to guests.

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