At Snow Hill High School, the mission is for all of our Eagles to S.O.A.R. in Scholarship, Ownership, Achievement and Respect. Aligning with, and embedding the core concepts and tenets of the Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (P.B.I.S.) motto and framework, Snow Hill High School implemented the S.O.A.R. Character Education initiative during the 2016-2017 school years.
The P.B.I.S. framework, was originally implemented at Snow Hill High School more than 10 years ago. Similar to other high schools across the nation, there were challenges that needed to be addressed. The most significant challenge was gaining staff buy in. Teams heard the ‘common’ concerns expressed by high schools, there was push-back at the early phases, and some of the common reasons for not implementing came up, those comments are no longer a topic of conversation. Over time, the P.B.I.S. leadership team, seeking and utilizing feedback from all of the different stakeholders in the Snow Hill High School learning community, have implemented with fidelity and it is clear PBIS positively impacts school climate and culture. The PBIS team supported staff with using the high school age-appropriate school-wide acknowledgement system. They also regularly reviewed discipline data to make decisions about ways to support student behavior change. This was shared with all staff. Now they are seeing even the most reticent teachers regularly writing positive referrals for students who demonstrate SOAR behaviors.
Dr. Kimberly Purvis, principal of Snow Hill High School, always seeking to leverage the benefits obtained from an already positive and healthy school climate and culture, had the vision to see that although successful over a period of many years, it was necessary to enhance some aspects of PBIS in order to continue the momentum. In an effort to continue to build school community and develop deeper relationships among all of the various stakeholders in the Snow Hill learning community, she decided to integrate components of Restorative Practices. Dr. Purvis also introduced the S.O.A.R. Character Education initiative at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school years. Identifying teacher-leaders in the school, Dr. Purvis ensured that these teachers were trained in Restorative Practices, specifically using Restorative Circles, as the format for implementing the S.O.A.R. Character Education lessons.
Initially, the S.O.A.R. Character Education effort faced challenges similar to what occurred during original implementation. Teachers were resistant to using instructional time for teaching behavior. Dr. Purvis anticipated this would be the response and proactively created a schedule for instruction. To ensure equity and respecting already limited instructional time, S.O.A.R. Character Education lessons are now held bi-weekly throughout the school year and rotate through each instructional period. S.O.A.R. periods are thirty minutes in duration and are held during homeroom class. Lessons are developed collaboratively with students, teachers, community partners and other stakeholders in the Snow Hill learning community. Lesson topics include integrity, community service, goal-setting, kindness, everyday leadership, growth mindset, volunteerism, heroism, responsibility, decision-making, perseverance and ethical dilemmas among others.
Since its inception, staff and students alike agree that S.O.A.R. Character Education is positively impacting overall school climate and negative behaviors resulting in discipline referrals are trending downward.
Snow Hill High School
Worcester County Public Schools
Snow Hill, MD