Cambridge-Isanti Schools was selected by the Minnesota Department of Education as a 2020 Exemplar Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) district, as highlighted during the June 18 school board meeting.

Federal Programs Coordinator Tammy Kraft explained the purpose of Minnesota PBIS Recognition is to identify and recognize exemplar schools and districts that have completed PBIS implementation and are continuing to achieve positive student outcomes in the 2019-2020 school year.

Kraft said there are 255 districts in the state implementing district-wide PBIS, and Cambridge-Isanti Schools was one of six that received exemplar status.

Kraft explained besides district recognition, Isanti Intermediate School/School for All Seasons and Isanti Middle School/Minnesota Center were awarded with the 2020 Sustaining Exemplar PBIS Award. She said there are 753 schools implementing PBIS in the state of Minnesota, and these schools were two of only 59 that were recognized with the sustaining exemplar PBIS award.

“Their’s is considered sustaining because they have been recognized before as exemplar, so this just means they continue to sustain exemplar status through Minnesota Department of Ed recognition,” Kraft said.

Kraft said the district should be proud of these achievements.

“Not a lot of schools were recognized, so we’re pretty proud that we were one of the few that were recognized, especially at a district level,” Kraft said.

Kraft said the district did incredible work throughout the school year.

“These schools and districts are able to demonstrate exemplary status by sustaining school-wide PBIS with fidelity in the current 2019-2020 school year,” Kraft said. “In addition to the awards, we cannot help but boast about the incredible work that the schools have done throughout the 2019-2020 school year as well as through distance learning efforts to keep PBIS a positive initiative in the Cambridge-Isanti Schools.”

Director of Teaching and Learning Brenda Damiani highlighted some of the PBIS initiatives.

“As a district that is district-wide PBIS, we believe how important it is for us to recognize our students and our staff for that positive school climate — everybody really exemplifying the Bluejacket Way,” Damiani said. “We started this school year with a district-wide staff opening all focused on creating that positive school climate for students and staff.”

Damiani said all employee groups were part of the opening school year discussions.

“We were able to get people from every employee group in conversations together about what it means to show students that positive Bluejacket Way and exemplify our character traits,” Damiani said. “It was a great way to kick off our school year around how can we create those safe, healthy and positive environments for our students.”

Damiani said each school has their own PBIS team where they look at how they can create positive rewards for students.

“What we want to do is show students the way that we expect for behavior and interaction in our schools and be able to recognize that,” Damiani said.

Cambridge-Isanti High School held hot cocoa socials for all students and staff in the cafeteria with music provided by staff. The school also had a bus driver appreciation with staff and students welcoming students and bus drivers. Little bags with a note and treat were donated by local businesses. Riverside Academy also celebrated student success and held positive team-building exercises and competitions.

Damiani said both middle schools participate in “stand up against bullying” activities in the fall. Cambridge Middle School also holds a CMS Cares Color Run.

Isanti Middle School/Minnesota Center students earn points for positive behaviors to get entered into raffle drawings or choose items from the school store.

The intermediate schools recognized students for displaying the district’s character traits and received prizes. Damiani mentioned all the schools carried on the PBIS initiatives throughout distance learning in various ways, such as weekly guidance lessons.

“One of the reasons why Cambridge-Isanti was recognized during the celebrations and as a district for exemplar is because we felt it was so important to continue recognizing and celebrating our students throughout distance learning,” Damiani said.

Cambridge Primary has a “Caring Critter” call program where students are nominated by a teacher and Principal Rhonda Malecha makes a phone call home to share the good news. The “Caring Critters” also participate in the Lions Club compassion project where students and their families donate food and gifts to families in need in the community.

Isanti Primary has Bluejacket Pride tickets drawn from their collection bin and winners received prizes such as T-shirts, caps, books and more. They also did various Bluejacket Pride celebrations throughout the year.

School Board Member Carri Levitski thanked Kraft, Damiani and all the PBIS team members for their efforts.

“It just goes to show what we’re doing with our schools as far as leadership and that whole positive reinforcement, and I just want to say thank you all so much,” Levitski said.

Board Member Lynn Wedlund said the PBIS initiatives are resonating with the students.

“I think it’s the fact that you are continuing on from year to year, reinforcing the same things and spreading the good news of PBIS to other places and other schools,” Wedlund said. “So it’s a building thing; it isn’t a one shot and we’re gone. It’s making a big difference in the success of the program due to great leadership and great teachers.”

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