Reading to cuddly dogs and taking a timeout in an underwater-themed Zen Den are experiences that sound more like treats than behavior interventions.
In Stephanie Vlahakis’ world, they can be both.
Vlahakis is a behavior specialist at Wilkinson Elementary School and Teacher of the Year. She didn’t start out to be a behavior specialist, but Stephanie’s creative ideas for connecting with students with the highest needs, coupled with her leadership goals, led the veteran classroom teacher to a role where she is able to impact all 500 pre-K through grade 5 students at Wilkinson Elementary School.
“Although Stephanie is tied directly to the ESE Behavior Cluster on our campus, she has a passion for ensuring all students’ academic and social-emotional success,” Principal Susan Nations said.
In the five years Stephanie has been at Wilkinson, she introduced behavior improvement programs and initiatives that led to the school achieving Bronze PBIS Model School status for the first time. (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is an evidence-based framework to improve and integrate all data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes).