Starkville Oktibbeha School District 2022 safeSPACE Coordinators, Laura Prisock (Partnership Middle School) and Lesley Jones (Armstrong Junior High School) attended the 2023 Innovative Institute Inspiring Innovation Conference on July 17-18 to present a session about their work to improve school culture. The conference was held in Biloxi, MS and organized by the Mississippi State University Research & Curriculum Unit and the Mississippi Department of Education.
Prisock and Jones shared a session entitled "The Steps to Creating a Positive School Culture," and talked about their experiences working with 6th through 9th grade students and staff to develop programming designed to support students and create a more positive school environment.
"Improving school climate is successful when all stakeholders are informed and involved in the schoolwide endeavor," Prisock said. "Students learn best when they are in an environment in which they feel safe, supported, challenged, and accepted."
The duo spoke with representatives from other districts across Mississippi about how they involved instructional staff, community partners, district leadership and families in innovative efforts to promote a positive school culture, and how they used school climate surveys to inform their approach.
The Starkville Partnership to Address Climate and Engagement (safeSPACE) project addresses school climate and engagement in grades 6-9 in the Starkville Oktibbeha School District. The safeSPACE continuous improvement approach provides targeted technical assistance and support to school leaders and teachers to improve the implementation of a multi-tiered system of support. Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) provide services to students and teachers to promote supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environments. In addition, safeSPACE facilitates partnerships with an outside counseling group to provide free counseling services to students and staff at Partnership Middle School and Armstrong Junior High School. Students and staff are referred for counseling with the external group through the PMS and AJHS school counselors.
Laura Prisock will continue to manage the safeSPACE program at Partnership Middle School for the 2023-2024 school year. Stacey Wilkinson will coordinate the program at Armstrong Junior High School. Lesley Jones will continue to interface with safeSPACE in her new role as 6th grade Counselor at Partnership Middle.