Elementary Principal Honored as Behavioral Health Hero
Friday, September 11, 2020
The Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Services Board recently awarded Huntington Elementary Principal, Heidi Gray, with the Behavior Health Heroes Award. Executive Director of the Paint Valley ADAMH Board, Penny Dehner, stated “September is Recovery Month, and it is important to celebrate and honor individuals doing extraordinary work. The Paint Valley ADAMH Board is so pleased to honor those that are making a difference in our Recovery Oriented System of Care by making sure our communities have the services that they so desperately need.
Pictured: ADAMH Director Penny Dehner, PAX Partner Amey VanVoorhis, and Principal Heidi Gray
Ms. Gray was nominated by Amey VanVoorhis who worked with Huntington Elementary to implement the PAX Good Behavior Game:
“Heidi Gray, Principal of Huntington Elementary School, has a deep commitment toward improving the behavior of the students at her elementary school. She is an excellent administrator, and cares deeply about her school, students, and staff. She has worked well providing all the staff with training and implementation of the PAX Good Behavior Game.
PAX is a research based behavior program developed by Dr. Dennis D. Embry, Ph.D along with other contributors.The ultimate goal of PAX is student self regulation through reinforcement of positive behavior. PAX meets the social-emotional behavioral and academic needs and improves the "peace, productivity and happiness of all people around the world using the power of science and prevention strategies."
I have been working with Ms. Gray for the past two years as a PAX partner for Huntington schools through the ADAMH Board. While at Huntington Elementary I have been impressed and excited about the entire school's active participation in the full implementation of the Behavior Kernels. As you get to know Ms. Gray you begin to understand why students and staff, from the cafeteria and bus drivers to the teachers, aides, and parents are so enthusiastic about using PAX. It's not just because of the overall reduction of non focused behavior in their building, but because of Ms. Gray's commitment to PAX. She is the leader, and she has continued to enable, and empower her teachers, and staff to also be PAX leaders in the building.
As you enter a classroom at Huntington, the children are attentive and practice to be PAX leaders. They work together as a team to develop a vision, not just for their classroom, but also for the building. The overall result has been a significant reduction in problematic student behavior. Each classroom follows the same Kernels so the transition from class to class provides for more instructional time for the classroom teachers. All staff use the same language.
Ms. Gray each morning does morning announcements where she recognizes "tootles" written by students, staff, or herself. A "tootle" is a note to compliment a person for a leadership recognition. While the students were online during the pandemic Ms. Gray continued each morning while online to include "tootles" submitted to her with the name of the student, teacher, or person that had written the "tootle." Additionally, once a week during the morning announcements a student or staff member could submit a theme for "Granny's Wacky Prize" that could be played. These prizes are short and "allow the students to practice starting, stopping, and switching (moving to another task or activity) under conditions of excitement. They are also useful to help reinforce self-regulation, or avoidance of problematic behavior. I am excited to nominate Heidi Gray for this outstanding award recognition.”