PAX was traditionally a part of a greeting in our home growing up. My father, Dr. Harold David Almond, MD, would say, “Pax vobiscum,” translated, “Peace be with you.”
Lately PAX has been noted as part of an educational program here in Upshur County Schools. Certainly, time to make it a lesson learned in my role as an elected member of the Board of Education.
PAX is a set of strategies to help students learn important self-management skills while collaborating to make their classroom a peaceful and productive learning environment. Centered on the Good Behavior Game, PAX is not a classroom management program, but it makes managing classrooms much easier. The patented PAX Good Behavior Game has impressive reductions in some major life tragedies by increasing students’ lifetime self-regulation:
Reduces violent injuries at school by 70%.
Reduces opiate use by 64%.
Reduces violent crime by 32%.
Reduces suicide risk by 50%.
Our MISSION that we focus on by reciting it before each BOE meeting, includes healthy living in society: “The Mission of the Upshur County Schools is to provide academic preparation; social responsibility; employability; and a desire for lifelong learning.”
By way of example at our first meeting of the 2020 decade, we gave Upshur Stars to Tennerton students Bentley Tenney, a fourth-grade student; Brooklyn Butler, a second-grade student; and Lewis Posey, a fifth-grade student, whom we honored for being fantastic PAX leaders in their classrooms.
Dr. Debra Harrison, our esteemed Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said the trio exhibit every quality that a Tennerton Tiger should have and said they are ready, responsible and respectful. She added that they work extraordinarily hard in the classroom each day and strive to challenge themselves.
We also honored two teachers, Kelley Caynor and Melissa Lamb, as PAX leaders at Tennerton Elementary School. Again Dr. Harrison graciously praised our educators: “They have jumped on board with the PAX Good Behavior Game, and their dedication to it is reflected in their teaching and in their students’ behavior.” Assistant Superintendent Harrison said their hard work shines through in the lunchroom, hallway, during recess and in the classrooms.
My late mother, Lois Ruth Flanagan Almond, a great teacher herself, used to say when she would help us behave by playing a game, that she was being “sneaky.” But then she would smile a million-dollar smile while winking!
PAX strategy is like Mr. Rogers and his wonderful neighborhood—the classroom becomes a wonderful place. With adult facilitation, students create a word-map of what they would see, hear, do, and feel “more of and less of” in a “wonderful classroom.” The map is posted prominently in the classroom and is revised over time to keep it fresh and applicable. The things that would happen more often in the Upshur County Schools wonderful classroom are called PAX (Peace, Productivity, Health and Happiness). The things that would happen less often are called Spleems. Children quickly become able to discriminate automatically between PAX behaviors and Spleems, an ability that is vital for learning sustainable self-regulation.
In a PAX classroom, teachers and other adults learn to set students up for success in creating PAX! This is a winning strategy; thus, we have Upshur Stars who are students and teachers. I see the gleam in my mother’s eye when I shake hands with our Stars. And I hear my father’s voice in Debra Harrison’s effusive praise: “Pax vobiscum.”