Here’s how the Willoughby-Eastlake Schools system is promoting a positive environment

Weastlake Jan
Willoughby-Eastlake students participated in a bubble soccer game as part of the PBIS initiative, which promotes positivity in the schools.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

"You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

What Johnny Mercer sang about back in the 1940s is alive and well in our local schools.

In fact, the Willoughby Eastlake School District has recently been named one of 11 districts in the state to receive the 2019 District Wide Implementation Award for its participation in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program from the Ohio Department of Education.

With the goal of promoting a positive school climate that improves outcomes for all students, the Department of Education defines the program as a “broad range of systemic and individualized strategies for achieving important social and learning outcomes in school while preventing problem behavior.”

On a daily basis in all the schools in the district, this translates to preventive activities, data-based decision making and a problem-solving orientation.

PBIS encourages students to think about the decisions they make, how they impact others and how they will impact them directly. And it helps teach students to make better decisions based on those practices.

At Willowick Middle School, Principal Brett McCann says their PBIS team meets monthly to come up with ways to positively incentivize and inspire students.

“For instance, we came up with a program that’s like a checking account for students,” he explains. “We reward them with points for each positive thing we notice them doing, whether it’s a student who cleans up someone else’s mess, or an entire class turning in their homework. With the accumulated points they can buy items from the school store. There are also monthly drawings with prizes such as Starbucks gift cards.”

He says this past semester they held a bubble soccer game and entered the students into a bigger raffle for 50 PBIS points.

Superintendent Steve Thompson has this to say about the recognition from the state: “We are proud to receive the award. Commitment to PBIS improves our school environment and gives all students a sense of belonging. Our staff members are to be commended for their tireless efforts and dedication to PBIS.”

Look for these monthly stories to cover topics from grades k-12 in the Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools System. For details, visit