Dr. Mary Richter

The Dr. Mary Miller Richter Awards are presented each year to honor one school and one district that exemplify the ideals, principles, and practices of positive behavior support. The award recipients demonstrate a firm commitment to improving the lives of students, the educators who teach them, and the community in which the school resides through innovation, creativity, and/or a firm commitment in staying the course despite barriers. Regional consultants, district leadership personnel, and school SW-PBS teams are encouraged to nominate deserving schools and/or districts. All active participating schools and districts, regardless of the tier at which they implement, are eligible for these awards.

Dr. Mary Miller Richter passed away in  June, 2014. She is greatly missed by all who knew her.


In honor of Mary Richter, Ph.D., Missouri’s founding Director of the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support (SW-PBS) initiative, one school and one school district will be honored annually that exemplify the ideals, principles, and practices of positive behavior support. An award committee comprised of SW-PBS associates from the University of Missouri Center for SW-PBS will review nominations and present the awards at the Summer Institute. Parents or community members, SW-PBS Consultants, school or district leadership, and school or district SW-PBS teams are encouraged to nominate deserving schools and districts. The award recipients will demonstrate a firm commitment and dedication to improving the lives of students, the educators who teach them, and the community in which the school or district resides through innovation, creativity, and/or a firm commitment in staying the course despite barriers. All actively participating schools and  districts, regardless of level of implementation, are eligible for the Award.

Nominations should include the following:

  • A completed application form (preferred)
  • A nomination letter explaining why the school or district meets the spirit and intent of the award, including supporting examples (e.g., student outcome data, other notes of distinction, implementation innovations).
  • 1-4 additional letters of support from a cross-representation of stakeholders (e.g., community members, school or district leadership, parents, students).
  • 1-5 images (sent as individual image files) that illustrate the spirit of the SW-PBS implementation in the nominated school or  district.

Nomination letter, and supporting letters (maximum of five documents) and up to five attached image files can be submitted through the link on the School and District application buttons, above (preferred). Alternatively, documents can be submitted as email attachments to moswpbs@missouri.edu.

Congratulations to the Independence 30 School District and Reed Springs Primary, 2019 Dr. Mary Miller Richter Award Recipients!

The Independence 30 School District (ISD) is a suburban school district serving of 29 schools serving 15,818 students, 68% of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. The district began their SW-PBS journey during the 2012-2013 school year, and currently has a number of schools that are implementing at all three tiers.

ISD takes a systems approach to implementing SW-PBS. The ISD has established a district leadership team, and has incorporated SW-PBS into their 5-year CSIP. Although SW-PBS is a district-wide initiative, they chose to bring on new schools in three waves, empowering schools to determine which cohort they wished to join. This enabled early adapters to jump in, while allowing schools that had a lot on their plates to layer in SW-PBS training when they were ready. ISD has implemented the Classroom Based Observation Tool (CBOT) to assess implementation of SW-PBS evidence-based practices in classrooms, and use the information to provide feedback and professional learning opportunities to individual staff members. The district has used this and other information to begin the process of identifying team members who are proficient in specific topics or practices. These individuals will be recruited to help build capacity among all Independence 30 School District staff. Finally, the District Leadership Team uses district-wide data to make data-based decisions to improve outcomes for students. For example, they noticed an overall increase in the numbers of Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs). Further analysis indicated that this increase was isolated to a small number of schools that had allowed Tier 1 implementation to slip. The district used this information to provide targeted supports for these specific schools.

As a result of these and other efforts, ISD has increased 90/90 attendance by over 5.8%. They have seen a 17.6% increase in the four-year graduation rate, and a concomitant 4.7% decrease in drop-out rate. In addition, their MSIP5 APR has increased from 73.2% to 97.5% since they first began implementing SW-PBS!

For these and other reasons, the Independence 30 School District has been named the 2019 Mary Miller Richter District of Distinction. Congratulations to the staff of ISD!

Reeds Spring Primary is a K-1 elementary school in the Reeds Spring R-IV School District serving a population that is 61% free and reduced lunch. Since beginning implementation in the 2013-2014 school year, they have decreased the number of Office Discipline Referrals by 59%. Currently, 93% of Reeds Spring Primary students have one or fewer Office Discipline Referrals.

The school uses quantitative and perceptual data to create a positive learning environment and improve outcomes for children. In one example, they reduced bus conduct cards by strengthening the bus expectations, and teaching these expectations to the students during an “assembly” on a school bus. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in bus conduct cards. These efforts have improved safety on the bus for Reed Springs Primary children.

A parent described the climate at Reed Springs Primary as “turning ‘me’ into ‘we.’” Students are taught to “make a difference” by performing “small acts of kindness.”

The students notice, as well. As one first grader put it, “At our school we have to be respectful and we can’t hurt anybody. All the teachers in the school are very nice. I like to hear about everyone’s week-end during den time. Every kid is learning to be nice and we look out for each other.”

The staff at Reed Springs Primary has worked hard to create a safe, caring environment for the children they serve! Reed Springs Primary is truly deserving to be named the 2019 recipient of the Mary Miller Richter School of Distinction!

2018 Recipents

Lebanon High School

Lebanon Senior High School, in Lebanon, Missouri, has been achieving positive outcomes for students since their initial implementation of schoolwide positive behavior supports during the 2007/2008 school year. From this implementation year to 2016-2017, they reduced the number of ODRs by over 60%, and reduced the number of incidents leading to Out of School Suspension by nearly 68%! As of March 31, 2018, 86.05% of students had 0-1 ODRs, 12.9% had 2-5, and 3.49% had 6 or more ODRs.

LHS has achieved these positive outcomes through implementation of a set of evidence-based practices that they have systematized in the Yellow Jacket Code. These practices include ensuring that all students know the schoolwide expectations of Be Safe, Responsible, Respectful, and a Learner. Students are reinforced for following the schoolwide expectations with Buzz Bucks, token reinforcers given out frequently for students caught following the expectations. Students are also recognized with Jacket Grams, which are given for students who have shown dramatic improvement, or who have greatly exceeded academic or behavioral expectations. Both Teachers and students are recognized with STAR (Student/Teacher Appreciation Recognition), and with student of the week and teacher of the week. Finally, teachers who are caught implementing a PBIS practice are recognized with Lowery Loot. Lebanon consistently addresses inappropriate behavior with clearly defined behaviors, decision rules, and standard strategies for addressing these behaviors.

Students who need additional academic and behavioral supports are provided with Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions. Tier 2 behavioral supports include Check-in/Check-out and LINK (an adaptation of Check and Connect). Tier 3 supports include FBA/BIP.

Lebanon Senior High School Supports adults in their implementation of these  practices, and  communicates their SW-PBS plans to all stakeholders through their website, and Teacher Handbook.

Lebanon Senior High School has received state and national attention for their implementation of SW-PBS since their first year of implementation! They are a 5 time MO SW-PBS Silver level recognition school, and a 6 time Gold level recognition school. This year, they were the only high school to earn the 10+ recognition for schools that have earned recognition and sustained exemplary implementation for 10 or more years. In addition, in 2009, they were held up as an exemplar of high school implementation by the PBIS National Technical Assistance Center with their inclusion in High Schools: Current Practice and Future Directions (A.K.A. The High School Monograph, Flanner and Sugai , 2009).

Lebanon Senior High School has long been recognized as one of the premier secondary implementers of SW-PBS in the state of Missouri. They are considered a model demonstration site by the state, and frequently host visitors from other cities and states who wish to learn from their success. For these reasons and more, Lebanon Senior High School Missouri SW-PBS’s highest honor: the 2018 Dr. Mary Miller Richter Award!

2017 Recipents

Lake Road Elementary

Lake Road Elementary in the Polar Bluff R-I School District has been implementing SW-PBS for 7 years. They originally began SW-PBS because staff were spending an inordinate amount of time addressing problem behaviors. Since beginning their implementation, Office Discipline Referrals have decreased by 85%.  Student attendance has increased by 11 percentage points.  This increase in student time in the classroom and the decrease in problem behaviors has likely contributed to a 46.7 and 22.2 percentage point increases in the numbers of students scoring proficient and advanced in Communication Arts and Mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test, respectively. Finally, staff retention has also increased since the school began implementing SW-PBS, suggesting that the school has become a nicer place to learn and work. Congratulations to the staff and students of Lake Road Elementary, the 2017 recipients of the Mary Miller Richter Award of Excellence.

2016 Recipents