Randy Sprick's Safe & Civil Schools, Practical Solutions, Positive Results!

Randy Sprick's Safe & Civil Schools – Practical Solutions, Positive Results!

An Interview with Randy Sprick

This past January, Randy returned from a two-day visit to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Randy made his first trips to the district for this initiative in the Spring of 2011, when Safe & Civil Schools began working with personnel from CPS in their efforts to improve climate and culture districtwide. Since then he has visited periodically to work with building leadership teams, offer training, and answer questions. On his most recent trip, he conducted a CHAMPS/DSC booster webinar, visited several schools, and conferred with district leadership. Upon his return, we sat down with him to get his impressions of the CPS implementation.

SCS: Randy, can you give us a bit of background on the CPS Safe & Civil Schools implementation?

Randy: We began working with Chicago Public Schools personnel in January of last year [2011]. We started CHAMPS and Discipline in the Secondary Classroom (DSC) training in a few schools in the spring and began training in earnest during the summer and fall. Now we are working with a number of schools on a schoolwide level with Foundations.

SCS: This wasnít your first visit to CPS, right? Youíve been there several times since they began training?

Randy: Thatís correct. Iíve made several visits to the district since Fall 2011. In addition to meeting with district leadership, I often get an opportunity to go to individual schools. Iíve visited, I think, seven schoolsóacross the board, secondary and elementaryóbetween fall and winter. Usually, the schoolís leadership team sets the agenda for the visit. So I mainly help leadership teams with questions they may have, issues that have come up, things like that.

SCS: Whatís your feeling about how things are going at CPS?

Randy: Iím truly excited about what I see! In my view, things couldnít be working better. The CPS system is so vast and complex and weíre still in the early going, but Iím encouraged by the staff commitment and effort that I see on my visits.

This past trip I visited Amundsen High School and met with the leadership team there. They were very excited about moving forward. The questions they asked were thoughtful, next-steps questions. Theyíre thinking ahead and making good progress. The team reported that Amundsenís passing times are much calmer. Students are in class on time, and the halls are orderly. According to staff, thatís a big change. Positive results like these foster positive attitudes among staff and increase the likelihood of positive changes in school culture and climate. I am seeing these kinds of results in all of the schools that Iíve visited.

So far we have trained more than 5,000 educators, and 99% of them say they would recommend this training to others. Susan Isaacs and Mike Booher are very excited about Foundations schools. They are very pleased with the results they see there. I hear the same from our other consultants as well. They report an overwhelming level of appreciation and receptivity from teachers and other professional staff.

SCS: Why do you think things are working as well as they are in Chicago?

Randy: District leadership is an important factor in the success of any initiative in a school, and I have a sense that district leaders are firmly committed to implementing Positive Behavior Support in Chicago—schoolwide with PBIS or Foundations and in the classroom with CHAMPS/DSC. The district is serious about making this work.

The Board of Education, under the guidance of Jennifer Loudon, Director of Youth Development & Positive Behavior Support, has adopted a great policy on behavior support and meeting studentsí social/emotional needs. I truly believe this sets the district on the right trajectory for longitudinal success. CPS is not approaching this as a quick fix, but instead is making a long-term commitment to sustainable positive change.

In addition to the strong backing of district leaders, there is the commitment and dedication of the teaching staff. These folks want to do right by their kids! In all the schools Iíve visited where they are implementing CHAMPS (or DSC) and/or Foundations, the staff is excited about the positive changes they see in student behavior. They are encouraged about the progress they are making and excited about moving forward.

SCS: Care to make a prediction about the future of this initiative?

Randy: Iím not a prophet, so I canít really say. But CPS has an exciting plan for building internal infrastructure to implement Positive Behavior Support districtwide with fidelity, and so far, results are encouraging. Iím pleased and proud to be a part of their plan!

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