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
  • 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 should be submitted through the link at the end of the application form.

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

Kirksville R-III School District

The Kirksville R-III School District has been implementing SW-PBS for over 10 years. Schools provide students with universal, targeted and intensive supports. District-wide, Office Discipline Referrals decreased dramatically during the first two years of implementation, and have held steady ever since. Indeed, Office Discipline  Referrals  for the 2015-2016 school year are only 23% of what they were when the district initially adopted SW-PBS.

The Kirksville Early Childhood Learning  Center (ECLC) has been at the cutting  edge of SW-PBS implementation in the  state of Missouri, and provides a model for other  Missouri schools  in terms  of SW-PBS implementation, stakeholder engagement, and presenting at National Conferences.

Congratulations to Kirksville R-III school district, winner of the 2016 Mary Miller Richter District of Distinction Award.

Bryan Hill Elementary

Bryan Hill Elementary in the St. Louis City School District has  been participating in MO SW-PBS since the 2012-2013 school year. Currently implementing at Tiers  1 and  2, Bryan Hill has experienced significant decrease office referrals. Since implementing Tier  2 supports in the 2015-2016 school year, the number  of  Office Discipline Referrals  has  decreased  by 17%, the number  of students  responding to universal supports has increased from 85 to 90%, and the number of  out of school suspensions have decreased 56% These improvements have likely contributed to increases in both staff  and student attendance. For these  and  other many other  reasons, Bryan Hill Elementary is the recipient of the  2016 Mary Miller  Richter  School of  Distinction Award.

2015 Recipents

The Raytown School District

The Raytown C-2 School District, recipient of the 2015 Dr. Mary Richter Award for Exemplary School District, is an example of district-level PBIS implementation. Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, the district took the first year just to study PBIS. The following year, all schools had 80% buy-in and began training through MO SW-PBS.

The district leadership team includes building and district administrators, the Guidance Coordinator, Director of Student Support Services, Community Relations Director, and representation from the Transportation Department. The group meets five times per year to analyze data, plan supports for schools, and provide communication for the community. Communications include posting information on the district website, creating a district PBIS brochure, and developing a PBIS fact sheet with parent tips.

Professional development funds and time are available for school teams to attend trainings at the Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. Time is allocated at the building level for teams to train staff during Professional Development “Early Out” Wednesdays. The district leadership also makes it a priority to send representatives from each building to the annual MO SW-PBS Summer Training Institute.

As a result of district-level  implementation, in-school and out-of-school suspensions have decreased across the district. During the past three years, in-school suspensions have decreased from over 8,000 to under 3,000.

A consultant who has worked with the Raytown district states, “I have always been impressed by the top down/bottom up approach that the district takes. Examples of system-wide decisions include purchasing SWIS for all schools, training in-house SWIS facilitators, and adopting a district-wide Office Discipline Referral form.” The Raytown district leadership team provides consistency for system-wide sustainability while giving schools the flexibility to make SW-PBS unique for their individual contexts.

Saeger Middle School

10 years ago, Saeger Middle  School logged an astounding 2,458 discipline incidents, including 96 out-of-school suspensions. Test scores were low, as was attendance.

After implementing SW-PBS for 9 years, Saeger has  reduced office referrals to  just 162! This represents a 93% reduction v in ODRs since implementation began. In addition, Saeger has experienced an improvement in scores on the Missouri Assessment Program state  accountability tests, as well as  in  student attendance. They attribute much of these  gains to implementing a  three-tiered model  of support for students.

Saeger has reached out and assist other schools that struggle with behavior and learning. They have opened  their  doors to  schools in  the Francis Howell School District, as well as  outside  of  their district. In addition, they have presented at Summer Institute for seven times, with presentations on “bumps” along our journey and how to overcome them, practical advice for thwarting students from reaching tiers 2 and 3, and how to engage your entire school community in SW-PBS.  Twice they have presented at the St. Louis area EdPlus Best Practices conference, and have been featured in the local newspaper celebrating their success.

2014 Recipents

Excelsior Springs  School District

In creating a climate of high expectations, Excelsior Springs School District leaders have continuously championed and supported the implementation of SW-PBS in all five district schools.  This commitment to SW-PBS has remained unwavering over time as district personnel has changed.

To promote cohesiveness and continuity across the district, all five schools adopted the same expectations for their students:  Go Safely, Show Respect, and Be Responsible – The GRR Expectations for the Excelsior Springs Tigers, grades K-12. While each school completed its matrix based upon its context, the expectations are the same no matter when you go in Excelsior Springs.

A sampling of unique SW-PBS features include:

The high school schedule includes a 32-minute intervention block known as Extended Learning Time, or ELT.  During ELT, schoolwide social/behavioral lessons are taught to all students, and targeted Academic Check-in/Check-out ELT is scheduled for students identified as needing Tier 2 support.

The Transfer Student Induction Model (TSIM) ensures that every new middle school student quickly develops a positive relationship with at least one trusted adult whenever they enroll in the school.  Students receive an initial overview of SW-PBS and are assigned a trained WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) student leader.  An administrator teaches the schoolwide social skills lessons over a five day period, and an administrator or counselor meets informally with the student at 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks.  During these meetings, academic and behavior data is checked and additional supports are put in place if data indicates a need.

Features at the three elementary schools include parents being on the Tier 1 team, students recognizing their peers with “Peer Paws”, established schedules for ongoing PBIS staff development, and protected schedules for the teaching of schoolwide lessons with administrators conducting fidelity checks.

A quote from an Excelsior Springs High School student conveys the changes he has seen due to SW-PBS:  “At ESHS, I feel the atmosphere has changed greatly within the last three years I have been here . . . . The respect between staff members and students has increased greatly! . . . The positivity overall has shot through the roof.”

Maple Park Middle School

Maple Park Middle School has created a “Student Fidelity Check” that is a systematic part of their process for identifying students for possible Tier 2 support.  This check helps to ensure, from the perspective of the student, that he/she has received Tier 1 with fidelity.

The survey asks the student to respond to questions such as:

  • I know the three school rules.
  • My teacher(s) have taught me about the three school rules.
  • The rules in my classes reflect the three school rules.
  • My teacher(s) have taught me about the three school rules when it comes to: classroom, hallway, restroom, bus, and auditorium.

As part of the survey, students share how many Viking Vouchers they have received, what they were for, and which teachers have recognized them with a Viking Voucher.  The students also list three adults in the school with whom they have good relationships.

Like many secondary schools, Maple Park struggled with making Small Group Social Skills lessons meaningful for students.  This past year, they revised the intervention to include a service learning component that provides students with the opportunity for real-life social skills application while creating and implementing a service learning project of the group’s selection.

The group meets twice a week after school, and two staff members are facilitators.  Each meeting begins and ends with the teaching and review of the social skills lessons.  After the initial lesson, the group works on their service learning project while the facilitators monitor and provide feedback on student use of appropriate social skills.  Progress monitoring data is recorded daily by each classroom teacher, and parents receive weekly communication.

Student graduation from the Social Skills group is high, and data confirms that students are maintaining use of the social skills after graduation.  A quote from one student mirrors those of other participants:  “SGSS has taught me how to be more respectful to others and to think before I answer.  Before SGSS I had a lot of office referrals and was rude and disrespectful to my teachers.  Now they have told me that they have noticed improvement.  I am glad I have improved with my behavior and so proud of our SGSS group raising over $300 to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis and leukemia.”