Western Area Career and Technical Center: Using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Framework to recruit and retain students.

Posted on Categories Engagement, Recruitment and Retention

At a Glance

The Western Area Career and Technical Center (WACTC) administrative team made the decision in the 2022-2023 school year to implement a PBIS Framework with the goal of recruiting and retaining students. Recognizing that negative behaviors and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) issues could interfere with a student completing their career and technical education program (CTE), a PBIS Team was formed to develop a PBIS Framework to meet the needs of their students.


PBIS is a proactive approach that schools and career and technical centers use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior. The focus of PBIS is prevention, not punishment. With PBIS, schools teach students positive behavior strategies, just as they would teach about any other subject. 

PBIS recognizes that students can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are. Everyone learns what is considered appropriate behavior, and they use a common language to talk about it. Throughout the school day — in class, at lunch, and on the bus — students understand what is expected of them. According to research, PBIS leads to better student behavior. In many schools that use PBIS, students get fewer detentions and suspensions. They also earn better grades.

The PBIS Framework


Each month the PBIS team selects a student based on specific criteria (Grades, Attendance, Disciplinary

History, Technical Instructor Recommendation, etc.) The student and their family are also invited to attend the Joint Operating Committee (JOC) meeting that month to be recognized by the board.


September to May

CHALLENGE PROGRAM KICKOFF WACTC has a partnership with Washington Financial, who financially sponsors the school for the five areas that The Challenge Program highlights regarding student achievement. Early September to award the Sophomores and Juniors and then Early May to award the Seniors
ENCOURAGING WORDS WING POSTER The PBIS team set up a silhouette of eagle wings in front of the  Guidance office and had all students write a one sentence “Words of Encouragement.” October


A school wide Food Drive competition was set up between shops, with the shop that collected the highest gross weight winning a pizza party upon returning from Thanksgiving Break. November
Schoolwide Cyber Security/Social Media Presentation Agent Felicia Trovato from the Pittsburgh FBI Field Office presented to the students on the dangers of social media, cyber bullying, etc. Early December
Schoolwide Short Term and Long Term Financial Planning Presentation Partners from Washington Financial presented on short term/monthly budgeting as well as long term planning/retirement. Mid-December
New Year/New Me Poster All students wrote what their New Year’s Resolution was going to be on a silhouette of the WACTC’s logo in front of the Guidance Office. January
Excellent Attendance Initiative All students who had three or less days of unexcused absences received a cake pop and hot chocolate delivered by the Culinary Arts students and principal. February
STUDENT EXPECTATIONS POSTERS With the new plotter that the school purchased, they hung up Student School Expectation posters throughout the building highlighting the main points of the student handbook.
W’RE LUCKY TO HAVE YOU AS STUDENTS DOUGHNUT DAY To piggyback off of St. Patrick’s Day, we delivered Krispy Kreme doughnuts and hot chocolate to each student letting them know that we are happy that they elected to enroll at WACTC and that “We’re Lucky to Have Them as Students.” Mid-March
NOCTI Kickoff


To give Seniors an “extra push” in the written and performance NOCTI exams later that week, we had a NOCTI Tailgate with providing them all walking tacos, an array of cookies, and hot chocolate along with the principal giving them a motivational talk. Late April


All students who had three or less days of unexcused absences were taken to Top Golf for three hours with the Principal and Guidance Counselor. Lunch was provided there, and a pizza party was held for them upon return to the school. Early May
FIELD DAY Six different events were set up outside and a bracket schedule so that the students from each program could compete against one another. The winning shop from both the AM and PM sessions won an -inhouse made trophy to display in their program until next year. There was also had a food truck and ice cream truck at the event.


One of the main goals of WACTC’s PBIS team was to assist in changing the culture and climate of the overall building. While there were a number of initiatives already in place at the school (The Challenge Program etc.), there needed to be (at least) a monthly incentive in place not only to promote and maintain positive student interactions, but also to let the students know how much the faculty and staff appreciate their decision to become a part of WACTC. In the team’s initial year, they implemented a series of events, guest speakers, and programs that not only promoted a productive school climate, but also provided students with invaluable information (financial literacy, social media safety, etc.) that they will be able to continue to integrate into their lives post-graduation. The PBIS team is looking forward to the 2023-2024 school year and providing additional opportunities and programs for students.


Western Area Career and Technical Center

James Purtell, Principal