WILMINGTON — When the vibrating sound from a harmonica is heard in the classrooms occupied by kindergartners through second-graders at Holmes Elementary, the children know they should be showing their teachers “PAX quiet”.

At Monday’s board of education meeting, Holmes Elementary School Principal Marilee Tanner and Assistant Principal Ryan Schlater spotlighted the PAX Good Behavior Game, a new initiative in the building.

The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX is Latin for peace) aims to get children in the elementary grades to help themselves self-regulate their emotions and their behavior, explained Tanner.

For example, during times when students are doing something together, they’ve learned that when they hear a harmonica, they are to stop doing what they’re engaged in, stop talking and focus on the teacher.

This is one of many PAX components meant to help create a classroom culture that focuses on good behavior and teaches young students self-control.

Tanner’s video presentation showed a Holmes teacher who said PAX has really helped her consistently manage her classroom. She added it allows the young learners to know exactly what the expectations are.

The PAX technique also includes nonverbal feedback to youngsters where the teacher points to cards bearing either an “OK” image or a “Not OK” image placed on tables and around the teacher’s neck.

Assistant Principal Schlater, responsible for much of the discipline issues in the grades K-2 school, said in his position it is helpful to walk into a classroom and be able to immediately relate to a student, and the student to him, with a “language” common throughout the building.

According to the Horizon Education Alliance, PAX teaches children to have voluntary control over their attention and increase their ability to self-regulate.

Tanner concluded her presentation saying “our students want to be safe, want to feel welcome, want to feel part of a community,” and she feels PAX has played a big part to produce those feelings at Holmes.

In a separate principal’s report, Denver Place Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel spoke about academic assessments that are conducive to student growth.

She also talked about an emphasis the past couple months of working with students on empathy. The school holds students in grades 3 through 5.

“We’re trying to get them to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes,” said Karshner-Rethmel.

Students have loved it, the principal said. The students have expressed that “I felt what they felt,” and “I’m able to see their point of view,” according to Karshner-Rethmel.

Also Monday evening, Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart reported the Wilmington City Schools (WCS) district has completed its first round of the first dose of a COVID vaccine for WCS staff.

More than 55 percent of the district’s workers — teachers and other WCS employees — have now received their first dose.

The Clinton County Health Department vaccinated all staff who opted in at this time, the superintendent said. There was sufficient vaccine supply to administer a vaccine shot to the remainder of the staff, she said in response to a News Journal question.

McCarty-Stewart spoke about the district’s Diversity Committee whose members include educators and community members. Since last summer they have met monthly.

At the February meeting of the WCS Diversity Committee, WCS principals reported on learning activities related to Black History Month that were really engaging, said McCarty-Stewart.

Director of Curriculum Nicole “Nikky” Quallen talked about the different federal- and state-level funding grants WCS utilizes. She focused on a new one called the Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant, which is from the Ohio Department of Education. The grant is going this year toward a mentoring program for nine Wilmington High School students who are considered to be good fits for a mentoring program, said Quallen.

Nine outstanding people from the community have made a 15-week commitment to be a mentor to one of the WHS students, Quallen said.

The school board approved two donations at its session: Hand sanitizer from Kroger of Wilmington worth about $500; and a Yamaha Trombone valued at $400 given to the WCS band program by Rebecca Haberlandt.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart speaks at Monday’s school board meeting.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/02/web1_supt.jpgSuperintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart speaks at Monday’s school board meeting. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Nine Wilmington High School students are taking part in a new mentoring program.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/02/web1_slide.jpgNine Wilmington High School students are taking part in a new mentoring program. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Denver Place Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel gives an update to the school board.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/02/web1_rethmel.jpgDenver Place Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel gives an update to the school board. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]