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October 1, 2023

Maze receives ‘Gold Award’ for approach to behavioral issues

California Coalition for PBIS honors local middle school

Maze Middle School has received esteemed recognition for its Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) framework. 

The California Coalition for PBIS honored Maze with its Gold Recognition Award for the school’s commitment to the model, which is a multi-tiered system of support for students that is focused on behavior and social-emotional learning. 

Every year, the Center on PBIS provides opportunities for schools to apply for these honors. Maze previously received the Silver Recognition Award in 2021 and continued with implementation. The Gold Recognition Award is a first for Maze and the Hollister School District. 

The coalition informed the district of the recognition Sept. 1. The Gold Award is the second-highest recognition level—after Platinum—and requires the school to meet at least 80% of the California Coalition for PBIS criteria. 

The data-driven PBIS approach calls for varying tiers of support based on the needs of students, said Emma Veltri, the district’s coordinator for educational services who previously served as Maze assistant principal.

As part of the California Coalition for PBIS evaluation of Maze, the school had an outside entity—the San Benito County Office of Education—survey the level of compliance with required criteria. 

For Maze, educators created behavioral expectations through what’s called Hawk PRIDE—which stands for Personal Responsibility, Respect, Integrity, Determination and Empowered. As part of the program, the school also provided more positive interactions such as birthday recognitions and teacher-student lunches. The Hawk PRIDE approach became a cultural staple at Maze in the process. 

The need for PBIS implementation elevated coming out of the pandemic when schools like Maze faced more discipline issues. School leaders chose to focus on a more positive approach to address many behavioral issues. 

“Education is more than academics. We address behavior expectations, and social learning practices like relationships skills and self-awareness skills,” Veltri said, reiterating how integrity is one of the expectations. “Integrity isn’t something you just have. It’s something that’s taught.” 

One of Veltri’s roles in the district office is to help coordinate the PBIS framework at four other Hollister schools: Rancho San Justo, Rancho Santana, Ladd Lane and the Hollister Dual Language Academy. 

Maze’s current leadership, meanwhile, is appreciative of the model’s establishment. 

“We are so proud of the work that the entire Maze staff has engaged in over the years to implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports,” said Maze Principal Christian Woods. “The data shows that this focus of encouraging positive behaviors has reduced exclusionary discipline practices and improved both student and teacher outcomes. Maze will continue to build on this momentum to ensure that all staff feel supported and more connected to our students.” 

Assistant Principal Shanieka Richard said the recognition reflects the school community’s dedication and hard work. 

“This achievement is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our staff, students, and our leadership team to creating a positive and supportive learning environment,” she said. “I appreciate everyone who has played a part in this achievement; Diana Herbst, Emma Veltri, and every wonderful Hawk! This award is a true testament to the collective efforts and the HAWK PRIDE that we uphold at Maze Middle School.” 

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