School Notes: Hartford’s Dothan Brook School Wins Award for Positive Behavior Program

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
White River Junction — At Hartford’s Dothan Brook Elementary School, students, teachers, staff and parents are promoting climate change as a positive thing.

How positive? Last week, the Vermont Agency of Education named the kindergarten-to-grade-5 institution as an “Examplar School” for the third year in a row, for its systematic effort to create an environment in which students treat each other better and so learn better.

“It’s a team effort,” Dothan Brook Principal Rick Dustin-Eichler said on Friday, three days after Dothan Brook and 10 other elementary schools received the award during a ceremony at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee. “It’s about having clear, consistent expectations throughout the building. … You focus on building a culture that teaches those expectations at all levels.”

The Agency of Education has been encouraging participation in its Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program for seven years, and Dothan Brook has been participating for six of them, Dustin-Eichler said. The agency reported last week that 39 percent of Vermont elementary schools are taking advantage of state training and guidance in the program, including frequent workshops.

Dustin-Eichler originally encountered PBIS during his final year as principal at Bridgewater Village School, and arrived at Dothan Brook as it was hitting its stride with the program.

“In the first year of implementation you work on developing expectations, on switching the mentality to focusing on the positive behaviors,” he said. “While there’s still a lot to do as you go along, it’s really an immediate impact on a school. Our goal is to create six positive interactions with a student for every negative one. You’re making (students) feel successful. You’re reinforcing the positive behaviors.”

Among the goals of that reinforcement is to prevent bullying before it starts. Not coincidentally, the awarding of Exemplar School honors to 11 Vermont schools last week came at the start of National Bullying Prevention Month.

“All behavior is a symptom of something else that’s going on,” Dustin-Eichler said. “ ‘Why is a student not paying attention in class? Why is a student getting up and walking around? Why is that student bullying?’ Throughout the year, we’re working on building those social skills that are needed so kids won’t want to bully.”

For more information about Vermont’s PBIS program, visit pbisvermont.org/.

Student Achievements

Thetford Academy recently named senior Mason Doyle of Strafford as its student of the month for September.

“Mason has established himself as a conscientious student who goes beyond getting the work done,” W endy Cole, the school’s director of admissions and alumni, said in the school’s announcement. “He puts his heart into his writing, crafting stories with an old-time Vermont feel, and in math and social studdies he is particularly good at asking questions that reveal his high level of critical thinking. ... He is respectful and attentive to his classmates: the kind of student who can work well in any group a teacher may place him.”

∎ The National Merit Scholarship Program recently conferred a letter of commendation on Windsor High School senior Abigail Millard. Millard scored among the top 34,000 out of the 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the fall of 2013. To qualify as a semifinalist for a 2015 scholarship (worth between $500 and $2,000 a year for up to four years in college), students needed to finish in the top 16,000.


Graham Hunt of Newbury, N.H., recently completed a semester of training with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) by traveling for a month in a remote stretch of western Canada. He was one of 10 students who started the course by backpacking 108 miles in 29 days, from the Coast Range of northern British Columbia through the Yukon Territory, learning along the way outdoor-living skills, off-trail navigation, route-finding, wilderness first aid and skills in personal leadership. After a four-day , i ndependent expedition without instructors, the students paddled 125 miles down the Yukon’s Highland River over 18 days.

∎ Eight students from the Upper Valley recently received degrees from Franklin Pierce University. Earning bachelor’s degrees were Meghan Katch of Canaan (magna cum laude, criminal justice), Lisa Menard of Plainfield (nursing), Miranda Stark of Canaan (criminal justice) and Amy Tibbetts of Enfield (management).

Associate’s degrees went to Victoria Crawford of West Lebanon (management), Karen Ibey of Enfield (management) and Susan Perry of West Lebanon (management).

Heidi Nutting of Lebanon earned certification as a paralegal.

In the Running

Organizers have extended until Oct. 26 the registration deadline for the inaugural 5-kilometer road race and walk in memory of former Mascoma Valley Regional High School teacher and girls basketball coach Ed Kehoe, who died of cancer this past summer. Proceeds from entry fees will go to the Kehoe Children Education Fund. For more information and to register, visit lightboxreg.com/5k-run-for-kehoe?func&sid=543716cf5fbb3.1412896463.1203800565&mobile=1.

Teacher Honors

The Beta Chapter of the New Hampshire Division of the Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG) Society International recently inducted as a member Heather Oliver, who teaches science at Mascoma Valley Regional High School.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304 .