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At Hill Middle School, every student can be a “hero”.

A school culture built by HEROS at Hill Middle School

April 08, 2016

Hill Middle School has had systems in the past for recognizing exemplary positive behavior.  The “Pawsitive Praise” program looked and sounded good on paper, but in reality, it was rewarding students who happened to get “caught” doing something good, yet it just didn’t go far enough.  Assistant Principal Coddie Webster wanted to implement a comprehensive program that would do much, much more.  Principal Ronald Mason felt that, “We needed something that would incentivize students who were consistently doing the right thing, every single day.”  Together they set out to completely change the overall school culture of the students toward the positive behaviors that were part of the school’s vision and mission.  According to Mrs. Webster, it was important to “recognize kids who come every day to school, and do what they are supposed to do.”  By implementing the hero Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program, the focus immediately changed to recognizing and rewarding the majority of the students, rather than just a few.  Students earn “Bear Points” points based on five standards:  following dress code, being on task in class, exhibiting random acts of kindness, showing support outside of the normal school day, and having no calls home regarding negative behavior at school.  It’s important to note that “Bear Points” are earned and used up by the quarter, so each student has an opportunity to start fresh every nine weeks.

Mrs. Webster says, “It’s an awesome school, and I’ve just always wanted to stay here.”  To Mrs. Webster, this program is more than just another attempt to mildly affect school culture - it’s a new way of work that involves all stakeholders, and nobody is left out of the mix.  Parents, students, teachers, administrators, counselors, and other staff are all involved in making this program easy and inexpensive to implement, and more importantly, highly effective.  Current data shows remarkable progress in positive behavior trends, and the program only started in October!  Even the students recognize the change in school culture.  According to Ashley Odenheimer, a 6th grader who is on the Student Council, hero “gets kids to care more about what’s going on around their school. It was hard to get recognized with the old program, but not now.”  In addition, as 6th grader Jackson Long says, “As you earn points, you get special activities, and the right amount of points gets you into the VIP Lounge!  It seem like there were more students causing trouble before this program started.”  

Students are recognized with both large and small incentives – a recent Popsicle party that included music was held in the courtyard and was immensely popular.  The most recent event, the March Madness celebration (for which students had to have 25 hero points to attend) was enjoyed by over 800 of the students who attend Hill, which is a huge percentage of the student body.  All-school incentive events are based largely on student input, and so far have proven very successful. In addition, the VIP Lounge, which is a separate room that houses foosball, multiple video game terminals, a ping pong table, a basketball arcade, and an air hockey table, was created by donations from the faculty and student council at Hill, which exemplifies the teacher and student council role and involvement in the program.   

The program is based on a few basic behavioral standards, which include the following, as found on the hero website at

  • Redirection Matters. From tardies to incidents involving multiple students, discipline is a part of every school—but strategies that redirect negative student behavior have a very positive effect on your campus culture.
  • Reinforcement Matters. From the hallways to the classroom, give all of your staff the tools to recognize students when they do the right thing.
  • Communication Matters. Better communication benefits everyone. When students, parents, and staff can communicate effectively, behavior is reinforced at school and home.

Every Hill student can be a Hill hero!  Check out the Hill MS website at Enjoy the Flickr album below to see more photos from Hill MS.  To learn more about Hill Middle School’s implementation of the hero program, please visit

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