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Saint Vincent School Develops New HEART Incentive Program

This program utilizes best practices in education surrounding the area of discipline. Restorative Justice and Positive Behavior Support Systems are child-centered strategies that engage the student in social-emotional learning and revolves around the areas of discipline, trust, and relationships.

The following article appeared in the August 31, 2018 Issue of the Intermountain Catholic.

Saint Vincent de Paul Parish School is starting the school year with a newly developed positive behavior incentive program called “St. Vincent HEART.” HEART is an acronym for Helpful – Encouraging – Accepting – Responsible – Together, which are the positive descriptions chosen for the program to be modeled by the whole St. Vincent community including students, faculty, staff, parents, and volunteers.

“We have totally revamped our discipline program,” said Vice Principal Sarah Lambert. “I took a course this summer at Creighton University called Catholic Foundations and was really inspired by the emphasis they placed on school mission and charism. Our mission at St. Vincent is to recognize every person as a valued child of God, and we are dedicated to cultivating their minds and hearts. Our charisms focus on service and the unique community we have at St. Vincent. In reflection of this, I found the school’s older system to be too punitive, and set up an adversarial relationship between the students and teachers. So I spent the summer working with Principal Gary Green and Student Support Team Member, Lisa Romero, on developing a unique program based on the ideas of Restorative Justice and Positive Behavior Support Systems.”

In the St. Vincent HEART program, teachers recognize a student, staff member or volunteer who models the HEART behaviors, as well as for following schoolwide and classroom expectations to be safe, kind, and helpful. When a teacher recognizes a student, they fill out a “St. Vincent’s HEART” form to be displayed in the main school hallway. Each quarter, these forms will move to the classrooms as more HEART forms are added to the main display.

“By focusing on positive behaviors and expectations, we set a new, more positive tone that connects so beautifully to our mission and charisms. The discipline system also works at creating and maintaining our community,” said Lambert. “Instead of handing out warnings, our teachers will restate and reteach the routines and expectations. It fits in really well with the Catholic value of reconciling and restoring relationships. That is our focus, and that is what makes us special.”