Playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ Pays Off for School

Bridge Street Middle School Assistant Principal Joseph Kolb will receive recognition from his peers today as he journeys to Charleston for the Principals’ Leadership Academy’s Distinguished Scholars Luncheon.

The Principals’ Leadership Academy brings new principals together with experienced ones in an educational atmosphere designed to support continued professional development amongst schools.

As one of only 18 principals statewide receiving recognition, Kolb was honored for his implementation of a program at Bridge Street Middle School to reduce discipline referrals and suspensions.

Named for the school’s mascot, the Red Devils, the program is called Devils’ Advocates. Kolb described it as an ongoing mentoring project teaching students responsibility while improving self-esteem and social skills. According to Kolb, discipline referrals and suspensions have been significantly reduced.

“I truly appreciate the work of the Bridge Street Middle School staff,” Kolb said. “I’d like to thank Bridge Street Principal Raquel Welch McLeod and counselor Heather Lewis for all of their support, and I’d also like to thank the Red Devil students for embracing the program.”

The middle school’s students above all deserve to be commended, Kolb said.

McLeod said one of the most noticeable improvements in students has been a drastic decrease in disruptive classroom behavior.

“During the 2011-12 school year, we had 63 instances,” McLeod said. “In 2012-13, there were only 24. We know the less disruptions we have in the classroom, the more learning can occur. The program has had a positive effect on the school in the reduction of disciplinary referrals and the improvement of student behavior.”

Even as she pointed to the improvements, McLeod said the school faculty and staff continue working to improve further. She said faculty and staff pay close attention to data collected and direct evidence to see where any improvements can be made.

“We are always looking for ways to make improvements,” McLeod said.