Presentation Title

Start with the Heart: Building Warm and Welcoming Early Learning Climates

Brief Biography

Deanna Hibbard has over twenty years’ experience in early childhood education. She is currently an Early Learning Climate Specialist for Metro RESA. In this position she coaches and trains teachers on the implementation of the Pyramid Model in elementary schools and childcare centers.Deanna started her educational career as a pre-k teacher in the public school system. After teaching became a High/Scope trainer and traveled throughout the United States and Canada training teachers. Deanna has created educational tools for Lakeshore School Supplies and developed a birth-pre-k curriculum for a large childcare chain. Most recently, she was the Director of Instructional Support for the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

Tara Davis is a PBIS Program Specialist working for the Georgia Department of Education. Previously, she served as a Florida PBIS District Coordinator for the 58th largest district in the nation. She also supported several elementary and secondary schools as a Response to Intervention (RtI) Coach in which she provided training and ongoing coaching for the development and implementation of Multi-Tiered Support Systems (MTSS). Prior to moving to Florida, she was a PBIS Coach for a Title One school is Salt Lake City, Utah, and a School Psychologist in Gastonia, North Carolina. As a National Certified School Psychologist, she has extensive experience and expertise in PBIS, coaching and implementation science, assessment, problem-solving and systems-level change.

Cassa Andrews, M.Ed., is the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Program Manager for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She provides assistance to Georgia’s Pre-K classrooms to ensure the inclusion of children with disabilities and support to classrooms that have children with challenging behaviors. During her teaching career she taught preschool aged individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders in both separate and inclusive environments. She also spends time overseas doing teacher training and workshops on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

Highest Degree of Presenter(s)

Deanna Hibbard - Master of Science in Early Childhood from Nova Southeastern University 2007

Tara Davis - Master of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Studies in School Psychology in May of 2011 from Western Carolina University

Cassa Andrews - Masters Degree in Special Education with an add on Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders - West Virginia University in 2010

Presentation Abstract

In May 2014, The David, Helen, and Marian Woodward Fund-Atlanta awarded $1.6 million in funding over three years focused on aligning the approach of improving school climate from preschool through elementary school, as a part of a larger effort to increase reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Just as workplace climate affects employee attendance, retention, and productivity, school climate – feelings of safety and positive relationships between students and adults in the school – affects student attendance, behavior, learning and success. Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is a school-based, research-validated framework to improve school climate. PBIS strategically creates and sustains school-wide, classroom and individual-level supports to improve results for all children by intentionally promoting appropriate behavior while focusing on preventing inappropriate behavior. Utilizing the SW-PBIS framework, the skills of early care and education professionals (birth – 3rd grade) will also be enhanced in the area of children’s emotional and social skills by coupling it with Pyramid Model (PW-PBIS). Therefore, an innovative blend of the two frameworks will build the school’s capacity as well as additional stakeholders (family and community) for promoting young children’s emotional and social competence and addressing challenging behavior to ensure climate strategies are aligned birth through elementary school. In particular, this presentation will focus on the work happening in six metro Atlanta elementary schools as they begin to implement the PW- and SW-PBIS blended model. Presentation content will also be helpful to parents and families as they will learn about the importance of early learning climate as well as learn about some strategies they can reinforce from the school in the home.

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Start with the Heart: Building Warm and Welcoming Early Learning Climates

In May 2014, The David, Helen, and Marian Woodward Fund-Atlanta awarded $1.6 million in funding over three years focused on aligning the approach of improving school climate from preschool through elementary school, as a part of a larger effort to increase reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Just as workplace climate affects employee attendance, retention, and productivity, school climate – feelings of safety and positive relationships between students and adults in the school – affects student attendance, behavior, learning and success. Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is a school-based, research-validated framework to improve school climate. PBIS strategically creates and sustains school-wide, classroom and individual-level supports to improve results for all children by intentionally promoting appropriate behavior while focusing on preventing inappropriate behavior. Utilizing the SW-PBIS framework, the skills of early care and education professionals (birth – 3rd grade) will also be enhanced in the area of children’s emotional and social skills by coupling it with Pyramid Model (PW-PBIS). Therefore, an innovative blend of the two frameworks will build the school’s capacity as well as additional stakeholders (family and community) for promoting young children’s emotional and social competence and addressing challenging behavior to ensure climate strategies are aligned birth through elementary school. In particular, this presentation will focus on the work happening in six metro Atlanta elementary schools as they begin to implement the PW- and SW-PBIS blended model. Presentation content will also be helpful to parents and families as they will learn about the importance of early learning climate as well as learn about some strategies they can reinforce from the school in the home.