Some of the qualities and behaviors that propelled Larry Johnson’s career as a power forward with the Charlotte Hornets and later the New York Knicks are similar to those Poughkeepsie Middle School students are learning as part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program.
For that reason, Johnson visited Poughkeepsie to help Principal Kelleyann Royce-Giron with the program kickoff.
“He spoke about our matrix and talked about how these values and expectations played a large role in his life,” Royce-Giron said.
The three key behaviors stressed during the presentation were respect, responsibility and safety.
During his career, Johnson was selected to the All-NBA team and All-Rookie Team once each, was named Rookie of the Year and was a four-time NBA Player of the Week. Johnson spoke as students viewed a slideshow about the PBIS program, in which students exhibiting positive behaviors can be awarded points throughout the year and redeem those points to attend events, enter raffles and other incentives, Royce-Giron said.
Throughout the morning, students attended an assembly by grade level. During fourth period, select students had an opportunity to do a meet and greet with Johnson, get a photo taken with him and have him sign something.
The program uses a system tied to a student’s ID so that, for example, if they swipe in on time, they are automatically awarded a point.
“Any staff member can assign a point to a student for doing something that demonstrates one of the values,” Royce-Giron said, adding that staff members without direct access to the system will be able to submit a request that a point be added.
The first event will be a movie night in November. Students will use points they’ve earned to get a ticket or snacks. Royce-Giron said something is planned for each month along with some special events.
“The kickoff energy was high and I’m looking to see positive results,” she said, adding that a relationship was established with Johnson who said he would like to come back and check in on the kids and the program.
“We are looking for movement in a positive direction, not perfection,” she said.